The County Voice

CSAC Forms Domestic Violence Task Force

CSAC is creating a domestic violence task force that will hold its first conference call next week on July 18. The goal is to convene a group of experts to look at the intervention programs that offenders are required to attend. This is important, because while some progress has been made in how we treat victims of domestic violence, we have not done as well dealing with the offenders.

While it may be satisfying on some level to “lock them up and throw away the key,” the reality is that these offenders will eventually get out and the recidivism rate for domestic violence is 50 to 60 percent in some studies. That is unacceptable. We owe it to the victims of this crime to do everything possible to prevent it from happening again.

You can increase sentences and hold offenders for longer periods of time; however, when they are eventually released, they are highly likely to commit the same crime again if they have not received effective programing while in prison or after their release. This can have tragic consequences for the victims and it does not serve society well either.

Intervention programs have been mandated in statute since the 1990s. Some of them work better than others, but we don’t have a lot of data about which programs are more effective or why — nor do we have a lot of information on which programs are better suited to which set of criminogenic needs. Each person who commits domestic violence does so for specific and individual reasons. We want to start treating the people who commit this crime with programs and services that meet their specific circumstances. We have to address each perpetrator as an individual if we want them to stop.

Of course, effective offender rehabilitation is not enough. CSAC also supports increasing services for victims of domestic violence, and we are working with the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services on the Advisory Committees for the Victims of Crime Act and the Violence Against Women Act trying to increase funding and services. 

We hope this task force helps us come to some common understanding of the two-fold nature of domestic violence. It creates a victim who needs help and there is also an offender who needs treatment to not reoffend. We hope to advance the discussion about this crime so we have a common goal and consensus on how to move forward.

We want to find the right balance between punishment for domestic violence and reentry services that really work to prevent people from reoffending. We hope to sponsor legislation next year that will improve treatment programs for batterers and reduce domestic violence. Our task force is a first step toward that goal.

For more information about CSAC’s Domestic Violence Task Force please contact Darby Kernan.

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