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Do Batterer Intervention Programs Work? Two Studies

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2003
14 pages
This report presents findings from a study of the effectiveness of two batterer intervention programs.
As an alternative to prison, batterers are often assigned to batterer intervention programs, which have proliferated in the United States during the past two decades. However, mounting evidence suggests they may be ineffective at changing batterer’s attitudes and deterring future violence against women. The effectiveness of the most common type of batterer intervention program, known as the Duluth model, was assessed by a study of one program in New York and one program in Florida. The findings indicated that the Florida batterer intervention program had little to no effect on batterers’ attitudes toward women and domestic violence and also demonstrated no effectiveness at deterring future violence against women. The New York study found that batterers assigned to a 26-week program, as opposed to an 8-week program, were less likely to reoffend, but neither group showed any change regarding their attitudes toward women or domestic violence. Limitations of the research are important to note as they present difficulties in drawing verifiable conclusions from the findings. Limitations include high rates of batterer drop out, victims who relocated and became unreachable, a lack of accurate measurement device to assess batterers’ attitudes, and the reluctance of judges to assign batterers to a no-treatment control group. Despite these limitations, the findings have important implications for policy concerning domestic violence, especially within the criminal justice system. 16 Notes

Date Published: September 1, 2003