By Carlin Kempt
SACRAMENTO – In Sacramento County Superior Court Department 60 this past Friday, dozens of domestic violence cases were reviewed for proofs of successful completion of the Batterer Intervention Program (BIP).
According to an evaluation of the batterer intervention programs by the Judicial Council of California, “over 100,000 arrests are made for misdemeanor and felony domestic violence charges while countless additional cases of intimate-partner violence go unreported” in California every year.
Each defendant convicted and granted probation in these domestic violence cases is then required to complete a certified batterer intervention program. The law for this program was only established in 1994 and, since then, it’s struggled to make a difference in hindering domestic violence cases, the studies note.
Analysis suggests the problem may be because these online, 52-week programs are too “focused on individual components of the system,” so identifying which factors reduce further violence by the batterer remains unclear, according to one study.
Studies also note this is because the best predictors of further violence by the batterers are individual characteristics, not the BIPs they are enrolled in, and each program produces mixed results.
Additionally, in an experiment conducted by the Office Of Court Research, “the men who find their way into the justice system and ultimately enroll in BIPs appear to be non-representative of the larger social problem of domestic violence.”
Gender and marriage also tend to be overlooked categories in the process.
Commonly, “strategies have been designed almost exclusively to address male violence perpetrated against females and ensure female victims’ safety, while ignoring the fact that intimate violence afflicts both women and men,” according to a study.
Therefore, while the BIPs may improve the behavior of certain batterers, the programs fail to collect applicable data and prevent further violence.
According to the US Census of Governments, local and state governments spent $115 billion on police funding in 2017. That’s just one example of where tax dollars go.
Proponents of BIPs ask what reallocating just some of that money could do toward improving batterer intervention programs and preventing domestic violence.
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