U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Test of the Efficacy of Court-Mandated Counseling for Domestic Violence Offenders: The Broward Experiment, Executive Summary

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2000
20 pages
Men convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence were randomly assigned to experimental or control conditions to assess the efficacy of court-mandated counseling for domestic violence offenders in Broward County, Florida.
During a 5-month period in 1997, all men convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence in the county were placed in the study. Men placed in the experimental group were sentenced to 1 year probation and 26 weeks of group counseling sessions, while men placed in the control group were sentenced to 1 year probation only. The primary purpose of the study was to test whether court-mandated counseling reduced the likelihood of future violence for men convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence. The experimental group included 216 men, and the control group included 188 men. Overall response rates for offenders were 80 percent for the first survey and 50 percent for the second interview 6 months post-adjudication. The typical offender was 35 years of age; 57 percent of offenders were white, 36 percent were black, and 6 percent were Hispanic. The typical victim was 34 years of age; about 53 percent of women reported that the offender was their husband and 37 percent said he was their live-in boyfriend. About half of the men viewed wife beating as acceptable behavior in various situations, while the majority of women viewed wife beating in almost all contexts as inappropriate behavior. About 30 percent of the men self-reported a minor abusive action against their partner within 6 months after adjudication. In terms of more severe physical abuse, 8 percent of the men self-reported taking such actions. Approximately 24 percent of men in both experimental and control groups were re-arrested on one or more occasions during their 1 year on probation. In general, there were no clear effects of counseling on offender attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. Analysis of self-reported and victim-reported psychological and physical abuse suggested offender behavior did not change over time. Of note, there was still evidence of severe physical abuse at 6 and 12 months post-sentencing. 34 references and 3 tables

Date Published: June 1, 2000