Editors-in-Chief

Arild Bjørndal
Centre for Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Oslo & University of Oslo, Norway
Julia Littell
Bryn Mawr College, USA

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Court-Mandated Interventions for Individuals Convicted of Domestic Violence

Lynette Feder, Sabrina Austin, David Wilson  
30.08.2008  
Crime and Justice  
4  
12  
Objectives: The aim of this systematic review is to assess the effects of post-arrest courtmandated interventions (including pre-trial diversion programs) for domestic violence offenders that target, in part or exclusively, batterers with the aim of reducing their future likelihood of re-assaulting above and beyond what would have been expected by routine legal procedures. We included experimental or rigorous quasi-experimental evaluations of court-mandated batterer intervention programs that measured official or victim reports of future domestic violent behavior. Given their importance in the literature, we also included rigorous quasi-experimental designs that used a treatment drop-out comparison. Official report and victim report outcomes were analyzed separately as were the different design types (i.e,, random, quasi-experimental with a no treatment comparison, and quasi-experimental with a treatment dropout comparison).

Search Strategies: We searched numerous computerized databases and websites, bibliographies of published reviews of related literature and scrutiny of annotated bibliographies of related literature. Our goal was to identify all published and unpublished literature that met our selection criteria.

Selection Criteria: We included experimental or rigorous quasi-experimental evaluations of court-mandated batterer intervention programs that measured official or victim reports of future domestic violent behavior. Rigorous quasi-experimental designs were defined as those that either used matching or statistical controls to improve the comparability of the groups. Given their importance in the literature, we also included rigorous quasi-experimental designs that used a treatment drop-out comparison.

Data Collection and Analysis: We coded characteristics of the treatment, sample, outcomes, and research methods. Findings were extracted in the form of an effect size and effect sizes were analyzed using the inverse-variance method. Official report and victim report outcomes were analyzed separately as were the different design types (i.e,, random, quasi-experimental with a no treatment comparison, and quasi-experimental with a treatment dropout comparison).

Main Results: The mean effect for official reports of domestic violence from experimental studies showed modest benefit whereas the mean effect for victim reported outcomes was zero. Quasi-experimental studies using a no-treatment comparison had inconsistent findings indicating an overall small harmful effect. In contrast, quasiexperimental studies using a treatment dropout design showed a large, positive mean effect on domestic violence outcomes. The findings, we believe, raise doubts about the effectiveness of court-mandated batterer intervention programs in reducing re-assault among men convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence.  
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