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Dane County, Wisconsin, Arrest Policies Project: A Process Evaluation

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2000
25 pages

This report presents the findings and recommendations of the Arrest Program in Dane County, WI, which was funded under a Federal grant intended to encourage jurisdictions to implement mandatory or pro-arrest policies as an effective domestic-violence intervention that is part of a coordinated community response to domestic violence.


The first section of the report addresses the project environment, which encompasses county demographics, the county criminal justice system (with attention to procedures pertinent to domestic-violence cases), the county's nonprofit community's involvement in domestic-violence services, and Wisconsin's domestic-violence laws. The section of the report that describes project planning and implementation notes that the Arrest Project was divided into two phases. The original grant proposal called for the development of a database and the creation of a lethality assessment for domestic-violence cases. The continuation grant proposal requested funding to expand the project in the areas of prosecution, advocacy, training, and bail monitoring. A multidisciplinary committee was created to manage project development and implementation during both grant periods. The overall project goal was to hold domestic-violence perpetrators accountable for their actions and increase victim safety. The development of a lethality scale to assist staff in identifying potentially lethal batterers was achieved; however, the risk-assessment tool remains unproven, and its future is uncertain. Police officers are complying with the district attorney's request to complete and submit the risk-assessment forms; however, there is no systematic protocol for the handling of cases in accordance with risk-assessment outcomes. The development of the Domestic Violence Offender Database has been delayed, primarily due to factors beyond the control of the District Attorney's Office. The criteria for eligibility for the bail monitoring program remain vague. The strengths of the project are well-qualified staff that have considerable experience in domestic violence; a substantial level of coordination and collaboration between advocates in the criminal justice system and the nonprofit community; and a committed and active community task force. The evaluation touts the project as having the potential to become a national model for a coordinated response to domestic violence. Recommendations are to examine the validity and usefulness of the risk-assessment tool; continue database development and expand accessibility; determine eligibility criteria and evaluate the bail monitoring program; develop a protocol for handling domestic violence/child abuse cases; expand outreach to rural communities and underserved minority populations; and encourage probation to participate in domestic-violence initiatives.

Date Published: February 1, 2000