An average of 50 percent of all homicides are the result of interpersonal or domestic violence in Vermont each year. In 2019, the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence (Vermont Network) reported that its 16 member organizations answered 18,921 hotline calls and helped 8,760 individuals, predominantly with issues of domestic violence and sexual assault. And while the state has made a concerted effort to support victims, protect communities, and emphasize accountability in cases of domestic violence for decades, these challenges continue to persist.
Concerned by these ongoing trends, Vermont leaders began using a bipartisan, interbranch Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) approach in 2020 to assess and improve the state’s responses to domestic violence. Vermont received a competitive grant from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) to support this effort. The JRI approach involves comprehensive analysis of available data in addition to focus groups and interviews with key stakeholders led by The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center with guidance from the Vermont Department of Public Safety, the Vermont Network, and other state agencies.
The goal of the state’s JRI effort is to explore differences in domestic violence prevalence, service engagement, accessibility, and outcomes to underscore the vast range of victim and survivor identities and experiences across the state. Vermont leaders also seek to develop more effective and timely intervention strategies with people who commit harm in their relationships, including people who also have substance use disorders.
An Executive Working Group composed of Vermont leaders whose work directly connects with domestic violence will oversee the JRI effort with the assistance of the CSG Justice Center. The CSG Justice Center will present findings and data-driven policy recommendations to the Executive Working Group in fall 2022. Recommendations approved by the group will then be presented to the legislature.
This project was supported by Grant No. 2020-ZB-BX-0019 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.
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