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Evaluation of the Lexington County, South Carolina, Domestic Violence Court, 1997-2002

Version
v1
Resource Type
Dataset : administrative records data, survey data
Creator
  • Gover, Angela R. (University of South Carolina. Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice)
  • MacDonald, John M. (University of South Carolina. Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice)
  • Alpert, Geoffrey P. (University of South Carolina. Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice)
  • Geary, Irick A., Jr. (University of South Carolina. Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice)
Other Title
  • Version 1 (Subtitle)
Publication Date
2005-03-04
Funding Reference
  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice
Language
English
Free Keywords
domestic violence; offenders; outcome evaluation; process evaluation; recidivism; victim safety
Description
  • Abstract

    A separate Criminal Domestic Violence Court (CDVC) was established in Lexington County, South Carolina, in November 1999, to hold perpetrators of domestic violence accountable through increasing fines and jail time and to place a strong emphasis on mandatory batterer treatment programs. The CDVC was a specialized court that combined the efforts of law enforcement, judges, prosecutors, mental health professionals, and victim advocates to improve the safety of domestic violence victims and hold offenders accountable. The researchers undertook to evaluate and measure the extent to which the CDVC was successful in implementing its goals. For the process evaluation, interviews were conducted in 2002 with 50 victims and 50 defendants to examine their overall level of satisfaction with the court process, their perceptions of procedural justice, and their recommendations for improving the CDVC process. Interviews were conducted in person using structured questions immediately after a case was heard. The outcome evaluation consisted of two methods of data collection. A time series intervention analysis examined the monthly frequency of criminal domestic violence for the years 1997 through 2001. Criminal domestic violence cases were compared for the 34 months before the establishment of the CDVC (January 1997 to October 1999) and the first 26 months following its implementation (November 1999 to December 2001). Additionally, in an effort to examine the impact of the Lexington County Criminal Domestic Violence Court on individual case outcomes, a recidivism analysis was conducted on a random sample of 400 criminal domestic violence cases. Of these cases, 200 were control cases drawn from the Lexington County Sheriff's Department's arrest database for the period January 1997 to June 1999, and 200 were treatment cases comprised of domestic violence arrest cases that occurred between December 1999 and December 2000 and processed through CDVC. Variables in Part 1 (Victim Interview Data) and Part 2 (Defendant Interview Data) included responses to structured interview questions about the victims' and offenders' perceptions of various aspects of the court process, whether they felt treated with dignity and respect, and their overall impression of the CDVC response to domestic violence. Variables in Part 3 (Monthly Arrest Data) include court period, month, and frequency of monthly domestic violence arrests, monthly simple assault arrests, and monthly aggravated assault arrests. Variables in Part 4 (Recidivism Data) include race, age, and gender of offender, employment status, booking date, days in jail prior to trial, number of charges pending, number of prior domestic violence offenses, date of first re-arrest, recidivism within first year and a half, days free of arrest, if defendant was diverted to pretrial intervention, and the amount of the fine.
  • Abstract

    A separate Criminal Domestic Violence Court (CDVC) was established in Lexington County, South Carolina, in November 1999, to hold perpetrators of domestic violence accountable through increasing fines and jail time and to place a strong emphasis on mandatory batterer treatment programs. The CDVC was a specialized court that combined the efforts of law enforcement, judges, prosecutors, mental health professionals, and victim advocates to improve the safety of domestic violence victims and hold offenders accountable. The researchers undertook to evaluate and measure the extent to which the CDVC was successful in implementing its goals of (1) establishing an effective court that enhanced victim safety and (2) providing a model of therapeutic jurisprudence that would assist criminal justice agencies in rural areas in designing appropriate judicial intervention to combat domestic violence.
  • Abstract

    In order to measure the extent to which the CDVC was successful in implementing its goals, the researchers conducted both a process evaluation and outcome evaluation. For the process evaluation, interviews were conducted in 2002 with 50 victims and 50 defendants to examine their overall level of satisfaction with the court process, their perceptions of procedural justice, and to obtain their recommendations for improving the CDVC process. Interviews were conducted in person using structured questions immediately after a case was heard to improve the accuracy of responses. Prior to conducting the interviews, the purpose of the research was explained and full informed consent was obtained. The interviews were conducted anonymously so that victims and defendant identities could not be identified. The outcome evaluation consisted of two methods of data collection. A time series intervention analysis examined the monthly frequency of criminal domestic violence for the years 1997 through 2001. Criminal domestic violence cases were compared for the 34 months before the establishment of the CDVC (January 1997 to October 1999) and the first 26 months following its implementation (November 1999 to December 2001). The data were analyzed as a set of interrupted time-series experiments. A quasi-experimental design was involved to rule out a number of rival hypotheses, and a control series was also included in the analysis in order to reduce the chance of historical threats. Additionally, in an effort to examine the impact of the Lexington County Criminal Domestic Violence Court on individual case outcomes, a recidivism analysis was conducted on a random sample of 400 criminal domestic violence cases. Of these cases, 200 were control and 200 treatment cases. A simple random sample of 200 cases was drawn from the Lexington County Sheriff's Department's arrest database that occurred between January 1997 and June 1999. This sample represented the historical comparison group of cases that were processed through the magistrates courts in Lexington County prior to the establishment of the CDVC. This sample period was chosen to provide the closest time comparison and insure that cases were disposed of before the inception of the CDVC. The experimental group comprised of a simple random sample of 200 domestic violence arrest cases that occurred between December 1999 and December 2000 and were processed through the CDVC.
  • Abstract

    Variables in Part 1 (Victim Interview Data) and Part 2 (Defendant Interview Data) include responses to the following structured interview questions about the victims' and offenders' perceptions of the court process: What is your overall impression of the way your case was handled by the CDVC? How would you rate the overall quality and professionalism of the court? How was the waiting time to hear your case? Were you given prior written notice of your court date? Did you contact the prosecutor or investigator prior to court? Did you understand the video and verbal instructions that were given by court officials? Do you feel that the court gave you adequate time to explain your side of the story? Do you feel that the judge was concerned with your side of the story? Do you think that the outcome of the case was fair and just? Do you feel that you were treated with respect and dignity by the court? Do you think that the Lexington County Domestic Violence Court's response to domestic violence cases is too easy, too harsh, just right? Did you ever attend magistrates court before because of a prior domestic abuse incident? If yes, was your experience with the Lexington County Domestic Violence Court worse, better, the same? Was there a "no contact" provision as part of the bond restriction in your case? If yes, who requested it? Do you think that the Domestic Violence Court's enforcement policy on bond restrictions (no contact provisions) are too easy, too harsh, just right? Victims were also asked: Did they provide you with instructions on how your case would be handled? Were you contacted by a Victim's Advocate prior to court? How would you rate the overall quality of care you received by the Victim's Advocate? Did you tell the judge your side of the story? Do you feel that the prosecutor was concerned with your side of the story? How would you rate the overall quality of care you received? Based on your experience in court would you recommend that other victims seek prosecution? Variables in Part 3 (Monthly Arrest Data) include frequency of monthly domestic violence arrests, frequency of monthly simple assault arrests, frequency of monthly aggravated assault arrests, court period, and month. Variables in Part 4 (Recidivism Data) include race, age, and gender of offender, employment status, booking date, days in jail prior to trial, number of charges pending, number of prior domestic violence offenses, date of first rearrest, recidivism within first year and a half, days free of arrest, if defendant was diverted to pretrial intervention, and the amount of the fine.
  • 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: Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes..
  • Methods

    Presence of Common Scales: None
  • Methods

    Response Rates: Parts 1 and 2: the overall response rate to the victim and defendant interviews was 96 percent. Parts 3 and 4: not applicable.
  • Table of Contents

    Datasets:

    • DS0: Study-Level Files
    • DS1: Victim Interview Data
    • DS2: Defendant Interview Data
    • DS3: Monthly Arrest Data
    • DS4: Recidivism Data
Temporal Coverage
  • 1997 / 2002
    Time period: 1997--2002
  • Collection date: 2002
Geographic Coverage
  • South Carolina
  • United States
Sampled Universe
(1) Victims and defendants whose cases were heard in the Lexington County Criminal Domestic Violence Court (CDVC) in 2002, (2) criminal domestic violence cases in Lexington County from January 1997 to December 2001, and (3) criminal domestic violence arrest cases in Lexington County between January 1997 and June 1999 and domestic violence arrest cases in Lexington County processed through the CDVC between December 1999 and December 2000. Smallest Geographic Unit: none
Sampling
For the interview data, a convenience sample of victims and defendants (a total of 50 victims and 50 defendants) was chosen. Only four of the victims and defendants who were asked to participate refused. Victims and defendants were not matched by cases and therefore, these data represent two independent samples of cases. For the recidivism data, a simple random sample of 200 cases that were processed in magistrates courts in Lexington County were (between January 1997 and June 1999) from the Lexington County Sheriff's Department's arrest database. This sample represented the historical comparison group (pre-CDVC) of cases prior to the establishment of the CDVC. This sample was compared to an experimental group of 200 randomly selected cases that were processed in the CDVC. The two samples resembled each other. No differences were found between the pre-CDVC and the CDVC sample on age, race, gender, employment status, the number of charges, prior domestic violence history, the number of days in jail pretrial, and pretrial intervention. The only statistically significant difference between the two samples was the rate at which the samples recidivated.
Collection Mode
  • This research project obtained data through court observations and interviews with key participants in the CDVC which are not available as part of this collection.

    In the review of the user guide text, the principal investigator confirmed the sampling information as is consistent with the information on page 82 of the final report.

Note
2006-03-30 File CB4045.ALL.PDF was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads. Funding insitution(s): United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (2000-WT-VX-0015).
Availability
Download
One or more files in this study are not available for download due to special restrictions; consult the study documentation to learn more on how to obtain the data.
Alternative Identifiers
  • 4045 (Type: ICPSR Study Number)
Publications
  • Gover, Angela R., Brank, Eve M., MacDonald, John M.. A specialized domestic violence court in South Carolina: An example of procedural justice for victims and defendants. Violence Against Women.13, (6), 603-626.2007.
    • ID: 10.1177/1077801207301553 (DOI)
  • Gover, Angela R., MacDonald, John M., Alpert, Geoffrey P., Geary, Irick A., Jr.. The Lexington County Domestic Violence Court: A Partnership and Evaluation, Final Report. Research Report Submitted to the National Institute of Justice and the Lexington County Sheriff's Department. NCJ 204023, Washington, DC: University of South Carolina [producer], National Institute of Justice [distributor]. 2003.
    • ID: http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/204023.pdf (URL)
  • Gover, Angela, McDonald, John, Alpert, Geoffrey. Combating domestic violence: Findings from an evaluation of a local domestic violence court. Criminology and Public Policy.3, (1), 109-131.2003.

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

Gover, Angela R.; MacDonald, John M.; Alpert, Geoffrey P.; Geary, Irick A., Jr. (2005): Evaluation of the Lexington County, South Carolina, Domestic Violence Court, 1997-2002. Version 1. Version: v1. ICPSR - Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research. Dataset. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR04045.v1