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Testing and Evaluation of the Use of Polygraphs to Combat Violence Against Women, Final Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2008
62 pages

In examining the applicability of polygraph to postconviction management of high-risk domestic-violence probationers, this study tested whether polygraph provides information about risky behaviors unknown to criminal justice personnel that is predictive of additional near-term arrests.


The findings indicate that polygraph testing can assist probation departments in managing the risky behaviors of domestic-violence probationers who have an elevated risk of repeated criminal behaviors as specified in this study (illegal drug use other than marijuana; the possession or handling of firearms; and involvement in additional physical abuse, regardless of gender). The polygraph's identification of these risky behaviors predicted subsequent arrests within the study period. Such polygraph findings can inform appropriate interventions that can modify the risky behaviors. Thus, the use of polygraph testing for high-risk, domestic-violence probationers can assist in interdicting specific behaviors in supplementing curricula of family violence programs. For this study, the DeKalb County State Court Probation Department (Georgia) identified 321 high-risk, domestic-violence probationers who had a mix of previous violent and nonviolent misdemeanor convictions. These probationers were allocated to a family violence intervention site and 10 analogous control sites in the county. At the conclusion of 1 month of psychoeducational classes, the treatment facilitator asked the enrolled men if they would volunteer for a polygraph test; and if they continued their enrollment, asked them again to take a second polygraph test at the end of the fourth month of classes. The treatment and control group samples balanced the demographic and criminal characteristics of the men at the treatment site and control sites across 11 demographic and criminal-record variables. Forty-three of the 87 men assigned to the treatment site completed at least 1 polygraph. 7 tables, a 26-item bibliography, and appended Victim History of Domestic Violence Survey

Date Published: March 1, 2008