Vermont Executive Working Group Hears Recommendations on How to Improve Domestic Violence Responses
From August 2021 to December 2022, staff from The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center, the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence (Vermont Network), and the Vermont Department for Public Safety (DPS) partnered to use a Justice Reinvestment Initiative approach to assess Vermont’s current responses to domestic violence.
After analyzing more than 63,000 individual domestic violence case files and engaging over 500 Vermonters whose work intersects with domestic violence, project partners identified four key themes impacting domestic violence responses in Vermont: education and training, collaboration, data collection, and programming. Partners then developed recommendations and presented them to members of the Executive Working Group on March 21, 2023. A summary of those recommendations appears below.
Education and Training
Finding: Consistent knowledge, approaches, and policies are needed across the various entities and systems that respond to domestic violence.
Recommendations in this area focus on increasing funding in the state to promote consistent knowledge, approaches, and policies to respond to domestic violence. Training on best practices for addressing domestic violence is also recommended for court system entities, law enforcement, 911 call-takers, and Department of Corrections (DOC) staff.
Finding: Inconsistent definitions and parameters of partnerships among stakeholders create barriers to coordinated domestic violence responses.
Recommendations in this area focus on improving coordination and collaboration among community-based providers, state agencies, the judiciary, the DOC, and others. Doing so will foster collaborative programming decisions for people who are on community corrections for a domestic violence offense and improve service hand-offs from incarceration to the community.
Finding: Varying domestic violence data collection practices within and across agencies create gaps in understanding and responding to domestic violence.
Data collection recommendations focus on tracking all aspects of domestic violence cases, including racial disparities in criminal justice responses to domestic violence and case trends among incarcerated individuals and people on community supervision for domestic violence offenses. Other recommendations focus on tracking the use of a Lethality Assessment Protocol and risk and needs assessments. Improving domestic violence data collection practices will more accurately reflect the prevalence of domestic violence, its case characteristics, and service utilization.
Finding: Coordinated domestic violence responses are challenged by the availability and accessibility of domestic violence programming.
Programming recommendations focus on creating risk- and need-based programming for people who commit harm, improving program coordination across various entities, and providing services to demographically specific populations of victims and survivors and people who commit domestic violence offenses.
Complete recommendations are available in the accompanying presentation.
The Executive Working Group will meet in late spring 2023 to decide which recommendations to approve and how to prioritize implementation and measurement efforts.
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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