Brame, R., Kaukinen, C., Gover, A. & Lattimore, P. (2015). No-Contact Orders, Victim Safety, and Offender Recidivism in Cases of Misdemeanor Criminal Domestic Violence: A Randomized Experiment. American Journal of Criminal Justice, 40 (2), 225-249.
Location in the Matrix and Methodological Rigor:
Individuals, Focused, Proactive; Very Rigorous, No evidence of an effect
What police practice or strategy was examined?
This study examined whether proactive police contact with domestic violence victims after no-contact protective orders were issued reduced offender recidivism and/or improved victim safety. An intervention in Lexington County, South Carolina was designed to increase proactive police contact with victims of domestic violence. Goals of the proactive contact were to educate the victim on the conditions of the no-contact order (NCO); advise victims on how to collect evidence and mobilize law enforcement if the order was violated; and monitor compliance with the NCO. These contacts were completed in person or over the phone.
How was the intervention evaluated?
The study included 466 domestic violence cases in which a NCO was put in place after the offender’s release on bond. These cases were randomly assigned to a treatment group or a control group. An additional “interim” control group was established during a two-month period when the intervention was not deployed due to a change in personnel. Cases in the control group were treated as usual (specifics varied but typically included mostly reactive contacts). Cases in the treatment group were assigned a “dedicated officer” who was to follow a victim contact schedule with a case manager overseeing those cases. Victims in both groups were interviewed at 6 weeks and at 6 months after the domestic violence incident that led to the offender’s arrest. Researchers also gathered criminal history and subsequent criminal records for all offenders.
What were the key findings?
Proactive contacts for the victims in the treatment group by the dedicated officers proved difficult, and was only successfully achieved in 37.1% of cases. Findings indicate that increased contact from law enforcement does not make the victim any safer or prevent recidivism (as measured by re-arrest) by the offender. Victims in the treatment group were more likely to report stalking and/or threats from their offender than were victims in the control group. However, researchers speculate that this difference was probably because the women in the treatment group were better able to recognize threats and stalking when they saw it. They were more aware of the NCO’s conditions and their own rights.
What were the implications for law enforcement?
Proactive police contact with domestic violence victims may not prevent recidivism, although it may increase victims’ awareness of their rights. The study also shows the challenges that law enforcement officers may have in contacting victims of domestic violence. Victims of domestic violence are a transient population that may frequently change addresses and often do not have publicly-available phone numbers. At the same time, this research does indicate that NCOs do not increase or jeopardize a victim’s safety.
Where can I find more information about this intervention, similar types of intervention, or related studies?