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Survey of Prosecutors' Views on Children and Domestic Violence in the United States, 1999

Version
v1
Resource Type
Dataset : survey data
Creator
  • Whitcomb, Debra (Education Development Center, Inc.)
Other Title
  • Version 1 (Subtitle)
Publication Date
2001-06-29
Funding Reference
  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice
Language
English
Free Keywords
battered women; child abuse; children; court cases; domestic violence; family violence; policies and procedures; prosecuting attorneys; treatment programs
Description
  • Abstract

    This survey of prosecutors was undertaken to describe current practice and identify "promising practices" with respect to cases involving domestic violence and child victims or witnesses. It sought to answer the following questions: (1) What are the challenges facing prosecutors when children are exposed to domestic violence? (2) How are new laws regarding domestic violence committed in the presence of children, now operating in a small number of states, affecting practice? (3) What can prosecutors do to help battered women and their children? To gather data on these topics, the researchers conducted a national telephone survey of prosecutors. Questions asked include case assignment, jurisdiction of the prosecutor's office, caseload, protocol for coordinating cases, asking about domestic violence when investigating child abuse cases, asking about children when investigating domestic violence cases, and how the respondent found out when a child abuse case involved domestic violence or when a domestic violence case involved children. Other variables cover whether police routinely checked for prior Child Protective Services (CPS) reports, if these cases were heard by the same judge, in the same court, and were handled by the same prosecutor, if there were laws identifying exposure to domestic violence as child abuse, if there were laws applying or enhancing criminal penalties when children were exposed to domestic violence, if the state legislature was considering any such action, if prosecutors were using other avenues to enhance penalties, if there was pertinent caselaw, and if the respondent's office had a no-drop policy for domestic violence cases. Additional items focus on whether the presence of children influenced decisions to prosecute, if the office would report or prosecute a battered woman who abused her children, or failed to protect her children from abuse or from exposure to domestic violence, how often the office prosecuted such women, if there was a batterers' treatment program in the community, how often batterers were sentenced to attend the treatment program, if there were programs to which the respondent could refer battered mothers and children, what types of programs were operating, and if prosecutors had received training on domestic violence issues.
  • Abstract

    Violence against women and violence against children are not isolated phenomena. Rather, such violence often co-exists in families. Children who grow up in violent homes suffer a wide range of adverse behavioral and psychological effects, including a tendency to repeat abusive behaviors, as perpetrators and as victims, when they attain adulthood. Increased awareness of the adverse effects of domestic violence on children has prompted some states to enact laws either creating a new offense, or imposing new sanctions, for cases in which domestic violence is committed in the presence of children. It is the prosecutor's job to enforce these new laws, as well as other existing laws that might be relevant. In their efforts to enforce the law while balancing the interests of women and children, prosecutors across the country have found themselves caught in the midst of a debate over how best to protect children in the context of domestic violence. This study aimed to describe current practice and to identify "promising practices" in the response to cases involving domestic violence and child victims or witnesses. It sought to answer the following questions: (1) What are the challenges facing prosecutors when children are exposed to domestic violence? (2) How are the new laws, now operating in a small number of states, affecting practice? (3) What can prosecutors do to help battered women and their children?
  • Abstract

    In order to identify existing policies and practices in responding to cases involving domestic violence and children as victims or witnesses, the researchers conducted a national telephone survey of prosecutors. In consultation with attorneys from the National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse, the decision was made to survey two prosecutors' offices in each state, for a total of 100 respondent jurisdictions. The reasoning was that the statutory framework was a key consideration when examining prosecutorial decision-making. Depending upon the structure of each prosecutor's office, it was possible to interview either a single individual with responsibility for all family violence cases (whether as head of a Family Violence Unit or as an individual attorney with this particular assignment), or two prosecutors, one with responsibility for domestic violence cases and the other with responsibility for child abuse cases. For purposes of analysis, in jurisdictions where two prosecutors were interviewed, the two responses were combined, so that the unit of analysis remains the jurisdiction and not the individual attorney.
  • Abstract

    Questions asked include case assignment, jurisdiction Cof the prosecutor's office, caseload, protocol for coordinating cases, asking about domestic violence when investigating child abuse cases, asking about children when investigating domestic violence cases, and how the respondent found out when a child abuse case involved domestic violence or when a domestic violence case involved children. Other variables cover whether police routinely checked for prior Child Protective Services (CPS) reports, if these cases were heard by the same judge, in the same court, and were handled by the same prosecutor, if there were laws identifying exposure to domestic violence as child abuse, if there were laws applying or enhancing criminal penalties when children were exposed to domestic violence, if the state legislature was considering any such action, if prosecutors were using other avenues to enhance penalties, if there was pertinent caselaw, and if the respondent's office had a no-drop policy for domestic violence cases. Additional items focus on whether the presence of children influenced decisions to prosecute, if the office would report or prosecute a battered woman who abused her children, or failed to protect her children from abuse or from exposure to domestic violence, how often the office prosecuted such women, if there was a batterers' treatment program in the community, how often batterers were sentenced to attend the treatment program, if there were programs to which the respondent could refer battered mothers and children, what types of programs were operating, and if prosecutors had received training on domestic violence issues.
  • Methods

    ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection: Created online analysis version with question text.; Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes..
  • Methods

    Presence of Common Scales: Several Likert-type scales were used.
  • Methods

    Response Rates: The response rate was 93 percent.
  • Table of Contents

    Datasets:

    • DS1: Survey of Prosecutors' Views on Children and Domestic Violence in the United States, 1999
Temporal Coverage
  • Time period: 1999
  • Collection date: 1999
Geographic Coverage
  • United States
Sampled Universe
Prosecutors' offices that had knowledge of, or experience with, cases involving children and domestic violence in the United States.
Sampling
Convenience sampling.
Note
2005-11-04 On 2005-03-14 new files were added to one or more datasets. These files included additional setup files as well as one or more of the following: SAS program, SAS transport, SPSS portable, and Stata system files. The metadata record was revised 2005-11-04 to reflect these additions. Funding insitution(s): United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (NCJ 99-WT-VX-0001).
Availability
Download
This study is freely available to the general public via web download.
Alternative Identifiers
  • 3103 (Type: ICPSR Study Number)
Publications
  • Jackson-McDougle, LaTasha. The Prosecutor's Role in Helping Domestic Violence Victims. Thesis, University of Texas at Arlington. 2013.
  • Whitcomb, Debra. Prosecutors, Kids, and Domestic Violence Cases. National Institute of Justice Journal.(248), 2-9.2002.
    • ID: http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/jr000248b.pdf (URL)
  • Whitcomb, Debra. Children and Domestic Violence: Challenges for Prosecutors, Final Report. NCJ 185355, Washington, DC: United States Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice. 2000.

Update Metadata: 2015-08-05 | Issue Number: 6 | Registration Date: 2015-06-15

Whitcomb, Debra (2001): Survey of Prosecutors' Views on Children and Domestic Violence in the United States, 1999. Version 1. Version: v1. ICPSR - Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research. Dataset. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR03103.v1