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Finally, domestic violence advocates argue against family counseling because the idea of family counseling may bolster a batterer's argument that his or her victim somehow contributed to or helped cause the violence. From a criminal justice point-of-view, such a position is untenable. A person who steals a car is no less guilty of grand theft auto if the owner left keys in an unlocked car than if they broke the window and hotwired the vehicle. Domestic violence perpetrators should not get a break simply because their victims have made themselves "easy" targets.
The third solution to the problem of how to sentence domestic violence offenders is to force them to participate in BIPPs. Battering intervention and prevention programs are a relatively new development in domestic violence, which is, in itself, a relatively new area of law. However, they have been around long enough to demonstrate results, and the results that have been shown are very promising. Participation in the right type of BIPPs appears to greatly reduce the likelihood that a domestic violence offender will re-offend. However, participation the right type of BIPP also involves an extraordinary time commitment that the public and many victims and perpetrators of domestic violence has seen as too intense; the most successful BIPP program involves up to three years of intervention, which begins during incarceration and mandates how much involvement a batterer can have with a former victim during each stage of the intervention. In such a situation, research has suggested not only a dramatic decrease in the number of family violence incidents, but also a promising change in attitude by the perpetrators of family violence.
However, most BIPPs do not confer to the ideal. In fact, most BIPPs last less than half a year, which is not long enough to effectively change beliefs that the batterers have probably held their entire lives. Furthermore, BIPPs are plagued by incredibly high drop-out rates. While participation in BIPP programs is frequently court-ordered, there can be an unacceptably long amount of time between a batterer's first missed session and any judicial enforcement of the court order. Furthermore, due to the original issues with incarceration, batterers are frequently given multiple opportunities to enroll in and complete their BIPPs before actually being subjected to any punishment. It should come as no surprise that studies suggest that there is no difference in either recidivism rates or attitudes towards family violence in batterers who are forced to participate in BIPPs and those who are not (Dept. Of Justice).
Because none of the current responses seem wholly effective in ending battering on their own, perhaps it is time to consider a more inclusive approach. Almost all of the experts agree that family violence will not stop until batterers are held accountable for their crimes, both by the criminal justice system and by society in general. A batterer's community can provide valuable goals for a batterer seeking to remain non-violent (Went). In fact, feelings of guilt and shame are appropriate for a person who has been violent with his or her partner, and increasing community awareness of who is battering may help do that. In many jurisdictions the names and addresses of sexual predators must be made available to the public; perhaps a similar system for domestic violence offenders would help reduce recidivism rates.
In addition, it is important for the criminal justice system to recognize the differences among batters. "While it is true that all batterers are dangerous, some are more likely to kill than others and some are more likely to kill at specific times" (Hart, "Assessing"). Determining which batterers are the most dangerous and what interventions are necessary to prevent those batterers from re-offending should be the ultimate goal of the criminal justice system. Unfortunately, family violence is not a simple problem, therefore:
In order to intervene effectively in these cases, it is important to understand the complex issues of violence within intimate relationships, including the (1) intent of the offender, (2) the meaning of the act to the victim and (3) the effect of the violence on the victim; the context within which any given act of violence occurred. Other relevant factors include the particulars of the incident, and how much violence, coercion, or intimidation accompanied the violent event (Frederick).
Because of the sheer number of variables contributing to individual domestic violence incidents and the fact that most offenders facing punishment have probably engaged in multiple acts of domestic violence, it is unrealistic to suppose that any one form of intervention or punishment will be sufficient to treat all batterers. Therefore, in addition to increasing the role of the community in ending domestic violence, a helpful solution might be for each domestic violence offender to undergo a serious pre-sentencing evaluation to determine the best way to decrease future violence and to give judge's wide discretion in their sentencing options. As a matter of public policy, it is unlikely that extensive pre-sentencing evaluation will get public support due to the sheer expense involved. However, when compared with the costs of public assistance for families, future criminal proceedings for children of violence, medical costs from future incidents, and additional prosecutions of the batterer, the costs of such a screening should be seen as minimal.
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Hart, Barbara. "Assessing Whether Batters Will Kill." Minnesota Center Against Violence and Abuse. 2004. University of Minnesota. 16 Oct. 2005 http://www.mincava.umn.edu/documents/hart/hart.html#id2295149.
Hart, Barbara. "Data on Men who Batter Intimates." Minnesota Center Against Violence and Abuse. 2004. University of Minnesota. 16 Oct. 2005 http://www.mincava.umn.edu/documents/hart/hart.html#id2306403.
Kaufman, Gus. "Individual Therapy for Batterers?" Men Stopping Violence. 2004. Men
Stopping Violence. 16 Oct. 2005 http://www.menstoppingviolence.org/LearnMore/articles/IndividualTherapyForBatterers.pdf.
U.S. Dept. Of Justice. "Do Batterers Intervention Programs Work?: Two Studies." National
Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence. 2003. National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence. 16 Oct. 2005 http://www.ncjrs.org/pdffiles1/nij/200331.pdf.
Went, John. "Non-Violence Plans: Measuring A Batterer's Commitment to Change." Ending
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