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Beyond Arrest: The Portland, Oregon Domestic Violence Experiment, Final Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 1999
196 pages
This evaluation of Portland's Domestic Violence Experiment (Oregon) focuses on whether the program has succeeded in reducing domestic violence.
The program operates under the philosophy that, over the long term, increasing the cost of violence to batterers and reducing the risk of renewed violence to their victims can achieve reductions in domestic violence. Over the short term, the program operated under the expectation that domestic violence can be reduced by increasing prosecutions and enhancing victim empowerment. The specific issues examined in the program evaluation were whether program interventions increased prosecutions of misdemeanor domestic violence cases, increased victim empowerment, and led to reductions in domestic violence. In addition to examining the effectiveness of a specialized police unit on domestic violence, the study also tested the following research hypothesis: Arrest followed by prosecution, trial, and sentence for the offender, coupled with provisions of enhanced support services for the victim, reduces the recurrence of domestic violence more effectively than arrest alone. A double-blind randomization design was used to assign eligible cases to a program treatment group or to a control group, which did not receive program intervention. Program investigative strategies involved various forms of evidence collection. Victim empowerment strategies included the development of safety plans, instruction on how to access criminal justice and community victim services, and assistance with transportation when necessary. Findings show that significantly fewer of the treatment group victims (compared to the control group victims) reported that they had experienced further violence (including verbal violence) during the 6 months following the arrest of the batterer. Arrest plus police-initiated follow-up compared to arrest alone led to reductions in subsequent self-reported domestic violence. Also, increased victim perception of empowerment led to reduction in self-reported domestic violence. Arrest plus police-initiated follow-up compared to arrest alone led to increased prosecutions, convictions, and sanctions for batterers. 49 tables and appended evaluation instruments and supplementary materials

Date Published: December 1, 1999