The NCNSC team was interviewed by reporter, John Buntin, of Governing Magazine about the Offender Focused Domestic Violence Initiative in High Point. The article, published in March 2016, highlights High Point’s success in reducing domestic violence offenses and recidivism through the focused deterrence strategy. Additionally, Lexington, NC has replicated the strategy and experienced success in combating the problem of intimate partner domestic violence.
NCNSC’s John Weil was quoted in the article about the mindset needed for other agencies to replicate the initiative: “The operational piece of this is very complex and requires quite a bit of commitment and attention to detail. You can’t drop any particular piece and have this be effective.” Communities seeking to replicate the initiative must be mindful that there are many moving pieces to the strategy and every partner involved in domestic violence cases has to agree to commit to the partnership and the common goal of reducing domestic violence and addressing gaps in systems and processes that have allowed domestic violence offenders to skate through the criminal justice system with impunity. Additionally, partners must agree that the Offender Focused Domestic Violence Initiative is a new way of doing business. As Weil states, “People bring a program mentality to this, but they are not programs. There is no beginning and no end.” All partners must stay committed and be accountable to the larger initiative to do their part. If any one piece fails, the entire strategy will fail.
For NCNSC’s full evaluation and replication report funded by COPS, click here: COPS OFDVI Lexington – High Point Evaluation – FINAL.
An interim analysis of domestic violence offenders who have been notified through the High Point Police Department’s focused deterrence initiative reveals that we know quite a bit how well the strategy is working in reducing domestic violence recidivism and with what types of offenders.
First of all, in general, the strategy of notifying domestic violence offenders that the police department now has a new way of dealing with domestic violence and is taking domestic violence crimes seriously works to deter future domestic violence recidivism.
The notification message goes onto to say that we [the police department] know who you are and you are now on a list being tracked for any future domestic violence offenses. Further domestic violence will result in swift, certain, and severe consequences. The offender’s anonymity is stripped and the offender is told that the victim is no longer driving the process. The police department is now taking charge. A seemingly simple concept has had rather astounding results when compared to traditional approaches to deter domestic violence. The graph below shows the 6-month and 1-year recidivism rates for notified offenders across offender categories in High Point.We have found that certain offenders are more likely than others to recidivate after notification at both the C and D levels.
First, the domestic violence history of an offender matters in whether or not they are likely to reoffend after notification. For both C- and D-level offenders, if they had a prior arrest for domestic violence before notification, they were more likely to reoffend after notification than offenders who did not have a prior domestic violence arrest. Therefore, it helps to know who is being notified based on their past arrest history and there may be room for adjusting the notification message or delivery method to account for past history in hopes of making the notification more successful in deterring future domestic violence for high-risk offenders. While most C-notified offenders (82.7%) did not reoffend after notification, 17.3% did reoffend. When looking at the C-level reoffenders, 60% had a prior domestic violence arrest before notification compared to only 32% of offenders who did not reoffend after C-notification. C-list reoffenders also had significantly more total domestic violence arrests prior to C-notification (1.35 prior domestic violence arrests on average) compared to non-reoffenders (.67 prior domestic violence arrests on average). A similar trend was found for D-notified offenders. Most D-notified offenders (77.6%) did not reoffend after notification with reoffenders being slightly more likely than non-reoffenders to have had a prior domestic violence arrest before notification.
Age of the offender at the time of their 1st domestic violence arrest is important in predicting whether the offender will reoffend after notification. Non-reoffenders were statistically significantly older at the age of first domestic violence arrest as compared to reoffenders. The average age of first domestic violence arrest for C-level reoffenders was 30.1 years which was significantly younger than non-reoffenders whose average age of first domestic violence arrest was 32.5 years. However, there was no significant difference between age at notification for C-list reoffenders and non-reoffenders. For D-list offenders, age at notification was associated with whether or not the offender reoffend after notification. D-notified reoffenders tended to be slightly younger at time of notification (average age at notification was 33.1 years) compared to non-reoffenders (average age at notification was 36.2 years). Like with the C-list trend, D-list reoffenders tended to be younger at age of first domestic violence arrest (average age was 30.9 years) compared to non-reoffenders (average age was 33.0 years).
Certain offenders reoffend very quickly after notification and they are very likely to reoffend again as they escalate up the offender notification categories. Specifically, if an offender quickly reoffended after D-notification (defined as getting a new domestic violence arrest within 180 days of initial notification), they were more likely to reoffend again after C-notification as compared to D-notified offender who were not quick reoffenders. 38% of Quick Reoffenders after D-notification went onto to reoffend after C notification. See graph below for more details.
What do we do now with what we know?
- Can we take advantage of this knowledge based on what the data shows us about reoffenders to change the messaging or process in some way to better deter high risk offenders?
- Other potential risk factors for reoffense after notification were: 1) being male, 2) being young, especially for C-list offenders, and 3) being an offender who qualified for D notification, but could not be located or otherwise reached to receive the D notification message.
- What can be done to ensure that no offenders who should be notified fall through the cracks? In order for this strategy, or any focused deterrence strategy to be successful, offenders must be met with certain, severe, and swift consequences for their offending behavior.
The full interim report can be accessed here: Nov 2014 Interim Report_UNCG Notified Offenders OFDVI Evaluation