Perpetrators of domestic violence (DV) often repeat their offenses with the same or a different intimate partner. Multnomah County’s Domestic Violence Enhanced Response Team (DVERT) addresses the issue of recidivism by identifying high risk victims and providing them with coordinated multiagency services (e.g., advocacy in criminal and civil proceedings, crisis intervention, counseling, home visitation, witness notification). Offenders from these cases receive additional attention by local law enforcement, probation and parole, and prosecutors. The goal of these efforts is to hold the offenders accountable for their actions. Very little is known locally or nationally about the impact of enhanced case management for high risk DV victims and offenders.
Primary Research Question
Do DV offenders, and indirectly their victims, selected for DVERT’s enhaned case management have lower recidivism rates than similar offenders who do not participate in DVERT?
The study used a quasi-experimental design to contrast the recidivism rate for 128 DVERT offenders (serviced between October 2004 and July 2007) with a matched comparison group of 128 DV offenders from the same locale who did not go through DVERT. Offenders in the comparison group were individually matched to DVERT offenders on demographic variables (gender, race, & current age) and established risk factors for DV recidivism. This matching process increased the likelihood that the two groups were similar to one another prior to the start of treatment (i.e., DVERT). The researcher obtained recidivism data for both groups using Portland Police Data System criminal incident reports. Follow-up times averaged 24.4 months for both groups.
Compared to the Non-DVERT cases, offenders staffed by the DVERT team were 34.9 percent less likely to have a new domestic violence incident documented by the police during the follow-up period. DVERT offenders were also less likely to have a subsequent criminal incidents of any type (-27.5%), arrests for any type of offense (-32.5%), and they were significantly less likely to have a subsequent person-related offense on their record (-32.2%).
This evaluation found preliminary support for the DVERT program’s role in helping to reduce recidivism in high risk domestic violence cases. DV offenders assigned to DVERT were significantly less likely to recidivate than were members of a demographically and criminologically similar group. The study did not explain why DVERT is associated with lower recidivism, and future evaluations should include an analysis of the prosecutorial outcomes of these cases. One possibility is that DVERT’s coordinated efforts result in more successful prosecution efforts and the offenders are incapacitated for longer periods decreasing their opportunity to reoffend. More research is also needed about how victims respond to DVERT and the role of advocates in the process.