With 189,401 incidents of family violence in Texas in 2007, policymakers and practitioners clamor for a proven protocol that provides appropriate services to victims and swift justice to offenders. The immediate safety of victims must be addressed and resources provided to reduce subsequent victimization. The response to offenders must hold abusers accountable and protect the community. With scarce resources, a successful strategy must engage multiple agencies in a collaborative and coordinated manner, using techniques that have been proven to be effective.
The 4,542 family violence cases handled by the El Paso District Attorney’s Office in 2008 demonstrate the problem in the El Paso community. The District Attorney recognized the need for a coordinated community response in English and Spanish, one that addresses safety issues, provides services for victims and promotes accountability for perpetrators and created the El Paso’s Domestic Violence Project, which offers a promising solution. A victim advocate and investigator make contact with a victim within 24-hours of an offender’s arrest, providing the opportunity to offer services and gather evidence needed for a successful prosecution. A collaborative task force of criminal justice and victim service providers then reviews cases for disposition. Anecdotal information about the 1,300 cases processed through the initiative suggests this approach has merit. After 18-months, the time is right for a professional research team to do a formal evaluation of how well the initiative bolsters prosecution and enhances victim services, and most importantly, what can be gleaned from this pilot and replicated statewide.
The overall goal of the evaluation is to evaluate the impact, effectiveness and efficacy of the El Paso Domestic Violence Project on the criminal justice system’s response to victims of domestic violence, and to identify the elements needed for successful replication throughout Texas.
Sponsor: El Paso District Attorney’s Office / Texas Gov’s Office Criminal Justice Division