CSAC Bulletin Article

CSAC Support Hub Releases Brief – Incorporating Behavioral Health Responses to Reduce Intimate Partner Violence

November 18, 2021

In early 2017, California Assembly Member Mark Stone introduced AB 372 to help advance domestic violence batterer intervention programs. The California State Association of Counties (CSAC) co-sponsored this legislation which ultimately allowed six counties (Napa, San Luis Obispo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, and Yolo) to pilot alternative interventions, focusing on creating the opportunity for change to stop future incidents of domestic violence. CSAC, with the support of the Blue Shield of California Foundation, embarked on supporting these critical efforts as part of the CSAC Initiative on Improving Domestic Violence Programs and Systems.

The causes of intimate partner violence IPV are complex and diverse, and the solution is more complicated than just treatment, incarceration, or prevention. Nationally, there is a growing interest in rethinking the responses and treatment approaches for those convicted of intimate partner violence, and to offer more tailored interventions. To aid in those discussions, the CSAC Support Hub for Criminal Justice Programming has released its most recent brief – Incorporating Behavioral Health Responses to Reduce Intimate Partner Violence.

This brief outlines the importance of blending public health and primary prevention as an essential upstream contribution to reducing first-time and repeat victimization in light of the AB 372 pilot data. It also identifies the varied types of people that commit IPV, as well as the types of behavioral health needs present like substance use, unmet trauma needs, and anti-social attitudes.  The brief also lays out the variation in response needed to address and change behavior. Further, it provides options for integrating the sometimes-divergent demands of public safety and treatment for funding IPV treatment programs. Some of the options discussed in the brief include:

  • Create a court-based fund for alternative Batterer Intervention Programs for individuals convicted of intimate partner violence that can meet the specific needs of victims, but also change the behavior of people who commit IPV.
  • Fund pilot programs that meet intimate partner violence needs in non-traditional ways, like integrating intimate partner violence treatment into substance use treatment, trauma-informed Cognitive Behavioral Treatment, and other wraparound programs that offer case management and service referrals.
  • Looking for ways to give probation and the courts more options to meet multiple needs through changing current legislation around Penal Code, Section 1203.097, and developing partnerships with local providers and victim services to offer services based on client specific risk and needs.
  • Develop best practices around court case management to improve court-related coordination around programming compliance through specialized, intimate partner violence court calendars.

As the AB 372 pilot program continues, critical policy discussions remain at the forefront of making actual change. This brief aims to begin those discussions in a meaningful, data-driven, and evidence-based way.

For more information on this brief, AB 372 Reports, or additional activities within the CSAC Initiative on Improving Domestic Violence Programs and Systems, please visit the CSAC Support Hub for Criminal Justice Programming website or contact Ryan Souza, Program Director at RSouza@counties.org.


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