Rhode Island Launches Justice Reinvestment Initiative to Identify Gaps in Services and Improve Responses to Domestic Violence

Despite an overall drop in crime in recent years, domestic violence remains a prevalent health and safety issue in Rhode Island. Mirroring national trends, more than 32 percent of women and more than 25 percent of men have experienced domestic violence in their lifetimes in the state.  

While Rhode Island has made progress in improving services for people who commit domestic violence and remains dedicated to supporting victims and survivors, the state continues to face programmatic and systemic challenges such as fluctuating funding and gaps in services. 

To better understand and address these challenges, state leaders have launched a bipartisan, interbranch effort to improve domestic violence responses. This innovative use of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) approach will involve comprehensive analyses of available state data in addition to focus groups and interviews with key stakeholders led by The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center. This effort is supported and funded by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance. 

These analyses will explore differences in domestic violence prevalence, service engagement, accessibility, and outcomes across the state to underscore the vast range of victim and survivor identities and experiences in Rhode Island.  

Recently established through an executive order, the Governor’s Domestic Violence Working Group will oversee the JRI effort with the assistance of the CSG Justice Center. The group was designed by Governor Daniel McKee’s Office and the Rhode Island Department of Corrections (RIDOC) to comprehensively assess domestic violence responses in Rhode Island. The group will review the analyses as well as data-driven policy recommendations, which will be provided to them for consideration by the CSG Justice Center in spring 2023. 

What Rhode Islanders Are Saying:


“It will take collaboration from multiple agencies and leaders in state and local government, law enforcement, and survivor support to make the type of progress we need to make in reducing domestic violence. That is why I am so grateful to see this working group come together to address this issue. The men and women in Rhode Island are relying on us to help. I am confident that this working group can identify and address the gaps in domestic violence response so that we can all build a safer Rhode Island for everyone.”

Rhode Island Governor Daniel McKee


“Data show that incidents of domestic violence have increased locally and around the globe since the start of the pandemic. I am optimistic that this passionate group of stakeholders will help us identify solutions to reverse these trends and establish new best practices that will keep our communities safe.”

Rhode Island Lt. Governor Sabina Matos


“Domestic violence is a community issue, and it deserves a community response.”

Lucy Rios, interim director of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence


“This is a very important issue, and I commend Governor McKee for spearheading this initiative. In Corrections we see firsthand the ripple effect domestic violence has in our communities; this is an issue that concerns us all. I am looking forward to the work ahead.”

Patricia Coyne-Fague, director of the Rhode Island Department of Corrections


“This is a very complicated topic. We need to dig deeper. The victim has an attachment, an emotional attachment, especially when there are children involved.”

Patricia Rivera, a domestic violence survivor and member of Sisters Overcoming Abusive Relationships


“Every day, members of law enforcement face the challenges inherent with domestic violence. We look forward to continuing this important work through the Domestic Violence Working Group alongside our partners in domestic violence advocacy, law enforcement, and government to ensure that all Rhode Islanders feel safe at home.”

Lt. Colonel Darnell Weaver, Rhode Island State Police


This project was supported by Grant No. 2019-ZB-BX-K002 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Bureau of Justice Assistance is a component of the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Office for Victims of Crime, and the SMART Office. Points of view or opinions in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

About the authors

Image for:
Former Senior Media Relations Manager, Communications and External Affairs
Brenna Callahan drove strategic media relations and public affairs to advance organization-wide initiatives. Prior to joining the CSG Justice Center, Brenna managed national communications for a civic engagement nonprofit. She previously developed and managed a communications and economic equity policy
portfolio for Mayor Marty Walsh’s Office of Women’s Advancement at the City of Boston. Brenna also worked in both development and operations roles at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston, where she managed agency-wide programming. Brenna earned a BA in English from Boston College and an MPA at Suffolk University.
Read More
  • Image for:
    Former Senior Policy Analyst, State Initiatives
    Carly Murray supported ongoing work in multiple states to serve survivors of crime by engaging with diverse stakeholders and providing technical assistance. Previously, Carly worked as a case manager with Chicago Torture Justice Center, where she supported survivors of police
    violence. Her research focuses on women’s and families’ experiences and needs related to trauma, criminalization, and access to social services. Carly started her career as a case manager for survivors of intimate partner violence and sexual assault. She holds a BA in psychology and French from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and an MA in social work, social policy, and social administration from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration.
    Read More
  • You might also be interested in

    Explainer: Minnesota’s Justice Reinvestment Legislation Results in $43.6 Million Annual Increase in Community Supervision System

    In May 2023, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed a sweeping public safety omnibus bill into law, which is…

    Read More

    Biden Signs Six-Bill Spending Package Funding Key Criminal Justice Programs

    On March 9, 2024, President Joe Biden signed a $460 billion spending package for Fiscal Year 2024, allocating…

    Read More