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Testing and Evaluation of the Use of Polygraph to Combat Violence Against Women

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2010
33 pages
This study examined the applicability of polygraphy to post-conviction management of high-risk domestic violence abusers and whether polygraphy provides information about risky behaviors that is predictive of near-term arrests of these probationers.
To be efficacious in the management of these risks, polygraphy must reveal behaviors that the criminal justice system would not otherwise know and that if not moderated by interventions, would lead to additional crimes. The DeKalb County State Court Probation Department identified 321 high-risk domestic violence probationers who had a mix of previous violent and nonviolent misdemeanor convictions. Probation allocated these men to a treatment family violence intervention site and 10 analogous control sites. The treatment site facilitator, at the end of 1 month of psycho-educational classes, asked the enrolled men if they would volunteer for a polygraph test, and if they continued their enrollment, asked them to take a second polygraph at the end of the fourth month of classes. The treatment and control group samples balanced the men’s demographic and criminal record variables. Forty-three of the 87 men assigned to the treatment site took at least 1 polygraph. The study classified the information collected in the pre-polygraph interview procedure and the polygraph test into four risky behaviors: illegal drug use other than marijuana; possession or handling of firearms; involvement in additional physical abuse, regardless of gender; and the polygrapher’s judgement of deception on the polygraph test. These behaviors were extra-marginal in that they were in addition to probationer’s widespread use of alcohol and marijuana. These extra-marginal risky behaviors predicted subsequent arrests within the study period. This small study suggests that polygraphy can assist probation departments to manage the risky behaviors of domestic violence probationers who have an elevated risk of repeated criminal behavior, and direct them to appropriate interventions to modify their risky behaviors. This suggests that an appropriate approach to high-risk domestic violence probationers is to interdict their criminogenic behaviors and go beyond the power and control curriculum of family violence programs. Tables, charts, references, and appendix (Published Abstract)
Date Published: January 1, 2010