Evaluation of the Rhode Island Probation Specialized Domestic Violence Supervision Unit
Contracting Agency: National Institute of Justice

The American Probation and Parole Association (APPA) was awarded a grant by the National Institute of Justice within the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct an evaluation of the Rhode Island Probation and Parole Department’s specialized domestic violence supervision unit. Joining APPA in this endeavor was BOTEC Analysis Corporation and the Adult Probation and Parole Department within Rhode Island’s Department of Corrections.

Rhode Island provided a unique opportunity to examine the effectiveness of specialized domestic violence probation supervision. The Rhode Island program replicated the Quincy, Massachusetts model domestic violence probation program, a national VAWO training site. The research tested the ability of a specialized program to maintain offender accountability and reduce domestic abuse and provided information on the administration and content of effective probation standards that should be part of domestic violence probation programs.

The Rhode Island Department of Corrections administers probation for domestic violence offenders in two programs. Probation officers with special domestic violence training administer the replicated Quincy, Massachusetts program in some areas. Offenders in these areas with two or more domestic violence convictions are held accountable to more stringent probation standards, such as more frequent office and field contacts by probation officers with offenders and their victims. Offenders in other areas of the state, while they have the same mix of characteristics as in the specialized program, are subject to the general probation program in which the probation officers do not have specialized domestic violence training. The courts require offenders in both programs to attend a batterer counseling program.

The evaluation collected a random sample of file data on the probation standards applied to probationers and the resultant behavior of a sample of active probationers in the two programs. Interviews also were conducted with probation personnel and with domestic violence victims. Researchers analyzed both quantitative and qualitative data collected to determine the effects of the specialized supervision program.