ReVEAL Rural Implementation and Emerging Technologies  (2019)

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Family violence affects many individuals in Texas and the complex, ongoing nature of abuse presents several barriers to criminal justice intervention. Studies show that 38 percent of adult women in Texas report having experienced some form of family violence and 146 women died in 2016 at the hands of their abusers. With prevalence rates such as this, Texas launched an innovative statewide pilot program to use video-recording equipment as an investigative tool in family violence investigation.

Project ReVEAL (Recording Victim Video Statements as Evidence to Advance Legal Outcomes in Family Violence Cases) examines the applicability, efficacy, and cost-effectiveness of using video recorded victim statements, as well as supplementary evidence, to investigate family violence cases. These video recordings are an intervention strategy used in multiple Texas counties and preliminary findings show it to be an effective practice. This is the third and final phase of Project ReVEAL (read a story about the project here) and this project will examine the practice of video recording victim statements in two rural Texas counties.

This ongoing evaluation continues to examine whether videos in family violence cases: (1) improve law enforcement investigative capacity in family violence cases, (2) improve prosecutorial case readiness for family violence cases, (3) increase the accountability of family violence offenders, (4) enhance victim safety, and (5) significantly reduce the costs of adjudicating family violence cases. This phase of the project will focus on the impact of video evidence in rural Texas counties.

This evaluation will involve numerous multidisciplinary partners, including members of law enforcement, prosecution, victim advocacy, defense attorneys, and victims of family violence to inform best practices for the implementation of cameras and use of such evidence throughout the criminal justice process. A mixed-method approach that includes the analysis of closed case file data and interviews and focus groups with stakeholders will inform the development of an implementation guide regarding the collection and use of video evidence.

The project will contribute to literature on video evidence collected by law enforcement through handheld, body-worn, or dash/in-vehicle cameras with a specific focus on family violence incidents. Findings will inform investigation and prosecution strategies when video evidence is available and outline best practices in collecting video statements from victims of family violence. Results will contribute to the creation of an implementation guide and models for other Texas jurisdictions.

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Funding Acknowledgement: The ReVEAL Pilot Study was funded by the Texas Office of the Governor, Criminal Justice Division Grant Number 3641901. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Texas Office of the Governor.