This week we learned about evaluation research methods. For this assignment, you will have to read “An Evaluation of Efforts to Implement No-Drop Policies: Two Central Values in Conflict” by Smith & Davis (2004). Follow the instructions below.
Prompt 1. In one paragraph: Describe the purpose of this evaluation research and the background that justifies doing this research. What was the overall goal of this evaluation?
Prompt 2. In one paragraph: Identify the types of evaluation the researchers conducted. Describe the methodology used to conduct this evaluation, including where it happened, types of data gathered, and types of research done. Note the advantages and disadvantages of each approach.
Prompt 3. In one paragraph, describe the findings presented by the researchers. Do you agree or disagree with their conclusions? Should no-drop policies be implemented nationwide, be dropped nationwide, or some combination. Why or why not? Provide evidence from the evaluation
Grammar/Mechanics/Formatting/APA/References: See below
Guidelines/Grammar/Formatting/APA/References: Use Times New Roman font, font size 12, and double-spaced paragraphs. A paragraph consists of at least 3 or more complete sentences. When appropriate, you should cite your sources and have a reference list following APA guidelines. Make sure you proofread what you have written prior to submission.
This week we learned about evaluation research methods. For this assignment, you will have to read “An Evaluation of Efforts to Implement No-Drop Policies: Two Central Values in Conflict” by Smith &am
An Evaluation of Efforts to Implement No-Drop Policies: Two Central Values in Conflict By Barbara E. Smith and Robert C. Davis 2004 NCJ 199719 Barbara E. Smith, Ph.D., is a Consultant with the American Bar Association; Robert C. Davis, M.S., was a consultant with the American Bar Association, Criminal Justice Section and is currently at the Vera Institute of Justice. This project was supported under grant 98 −WT −VX− 0029 from the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. Findings and conclusions of the research reported here are those of the authors and do not reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Depa rtment of Justice. The views expressed herein have not been approved by the House of Delegate s or the Board of Governors of the American Bar Association and, accordingly, should not be construed as representing the policy of the American Bar Association or its Criminal Justice Section. An Evaluation of Efforts to Implement No-Drop Policies: Two Central Values in Conflict During the late 1980s and 1990s, the law enforcement response to domestic violence changed remarkably. Legal impediments were removed for police officers making warrantless arrests for misdemeanors they did not witne ss. They were replaced by presumptive arrest statutes, under which police were encouraged to make arrests, or statutes making arrest mandatory when probable cause existed. Many victim advocates were pleased with these changes, arguing that taking the decision to arrest away from victims shielded them from possible retaliation by batterers. The changes in police practices regarding domestic incidents were paralleled by changes in the prosecution of these cases. Many jurisdictions chan ged their prosecution policies to ensure that all legally sufficient domestic cases would be prosecuted whether or not victims were fully cooperative, to drop the requirement that victims sign a complaint, or to forbid victims from dropping charges once they were filed. Other juri sdictions facilitated the process of obtaining restraining orders; established sp ecial domestic violence courts staffed with personnel trained to handle domestic cases; or estab lished better coordination between police, prosecution, judicial, and probation agencies. Some prosecutors adopted a policy that parallele d mandatory arrest policies of the police. So- called no-drop or evidence-based prosecution wa s pioneered in places such as Duluth, Minnesota, and San Diego, Ca lifornia, in the late 1980s in response to the high dismissal rate of domestic violence cases. Until then, it had been the practice of most prosecutors and judges to dismiss domestic cases in which the victim was unwilling to come to court or to testify against the defendant. Because many victims failed to cooperate for a variety of reasons, domestic violence cases had dismissal rates many times higher than other crimes. In particular, the San Diego City Attorney recei ved a lot of national press about evidence-based prosecution. The office realized that forms of evidence other than the testimony of victims could be collected in domestic violence cases. Advoc ates convinced the office to treat domestic violence like any other crime and not rely solely on the victim to determine how to proceed. Statements made on 911 tapes or to responding police officers could be admissible under certain circumstances. Photos of injuries could be taken and the testimony of medical personnel entered. Physical evidence could be collected from the household. The statements of witnesses could be used. San Diego prosecutors fought hard to convi nce judges to accept these forms of evidence. Over time, with the passage of key statutes on admissibility of evidence, the city attorney’s office prevailed and was able to wi n convictions in a large percentage of cases, even without (or in spite of) the testimony of the victim. San Diego’s success convinced other prosecutors to follow suit. Some advocates argue that no- drop policies are victim-friendly because they take the burden of continuing a prosecution away from the victim and decrease the abuser’s power to force the victim to drop charges. By contrast, others have argued that no-drop policies take away power from the victim and assume the State’s interests should supersede those of the victim. The present study looked at the impact of no-drop policies on the victim and the criminal justice system. III–4–3 An Evaluation of Efforts to Implement No-Drop Policies: Two Central Values in Conflict Purpose of the Research The researchers wanted to learn if prosecution without the victim’s cooperation was feasible with appropriate increases in resources. They identified three sites where the Office of Justice Programs had awarded funds for no-drop pros ecution under the Office on Violence Against Women’s (OVW) grant program to encourage arrest policies. Included were Everett, Washington, Klamath Falls, Oregon, and Omaha, Nebraska. San Diego was added to the list because of its historic importance, even thou gh it had not applied for funds under the arrest policies grant program. San Diego was the first place to institute a no-drop policy and is widely respected as being the most successful no-drop si te. The researchers felt they could not conduct a study of no-drop policies without including the longest-running and strongest program. The study was designed to examine the effects of no-drop policies on court outcomes and victim sa tisfaction with the justice system and feelin gs of safety. Four research questions were addressed: ♦ Did implementing a no-drop policy result in in creased convictions and fewer dismissals? ♦ Did the rate of tri als increase in jurisdicti ons where no-drop was adopted as a result of the prosecutor’s demand for a plea in cases in which victims were uncooperative or unavailable? ♦ Did prose cutors have to downgrade sentence demands to win the willingness of defense attorneys to negotiate pleas in th e new context of a no-drop policy? ♦ Wha t was the impact on victims? Did victims who did not want their intimate partners prosecuted eventually come to believe prosecution was a good thing, or did prosecution without the victim’s consent result in angry vi ctims who were dis couraged from calling the police in the future? Methods The study evaluation encompassed process and impact components. During the process component, the researchers collected data on no- drop program implementation through a review of written materials, interviews with local officials, and onsite observations. The impact evaluation assessed the overall effect of th e coordinated approach to domestic violence implemented at each site. At the three sites that had recently implemented no-drop policies (Everett, Klamath Falls, and Omaha), researcher s attempted to collect samples of 200 domestic violence court cases during the year before implementation of the no-drop policy and 200 cases after its implementation. That was not possible in Omaha because domestic violence cases were prosecuted by the city attorney before the no-d rop policy and by the county attorney afterward. Thus, a pre- and post-comparison of o ffice processing was not possible. In San Diego, which has had a no-drop policy sinc e the mid-1980s (and thus a pre-/post-sample was not feasible), the researchers examined the effects of two State laws favorable to prosecutors. These statutes were designed to make it easier to admit certain types of evidence and thereby increase the prosecutor’s chances of succeeding in trials without victim cooperation. III–4–4 An Evaluation of Efforts to Implement No-Drop Policies: Two Central Values in Conflict To assess the impact of the statutes on domestic violence cases in San Diego, samples were collected of 200 cases before and 200 cases after the new statutes took effect. For sampled cases, the researchers collected information on charges, defendants’ criminal histories, relationships between victims and defendants, court outcomes, sentence and special conditions of sentence, issuance of protection or ders, prosecution of violations of protection orders, contacts with victims by phone or in person, assessments of victim willingness to prosecute, subpoenas or body attachments issued for victims, and victims’ attendance in court. For cases resolved under the no-drop policy, telephone interviews with victims were attempted to ascertain their desires about wh at should have been done with the case (from dropping charges to sentencing batterers to jail terms), their willingnes s to cooperate with criminal justice officials, their contact with victim advocates, their belief that their views were he ard and considered by criminal justice officials, their satisfaction with officials and with the case outcome, their beliefs about whether the criminal justice outcome had incr eased or decreased their safety, and the level of violence experienced after the case was resolved in court. Findings San Diego San Diego’s no-drop policy is the model others ha ve copied. Because the policy began so long ago, an archival comparison was not possible in San Diego. However, researchers did study the impact of the 1997 changes in legislation regardin g admissibility of evidence. Analysis revealed the following: ♦ Researchers found differences in case pro cessing between 1996 and 1999. The processing time declined from an average of 91 days in 1996 to 32 days in 1999. The rate of adjudications of guilt was an amazing 96 percent in both years. ♦ No differences were found in the proportion of guilty defendants whose sentences included jail time, probation, or batterer treatment. Howe ver, a significant difference was found in the proportion of offenders whose sentences incl uded a no-contact provision. In 1999, 61 percent of offenders were ordered to stay aw ay from victims, up from 38 percent in 1996. ♦ None of the changes found between 1996 and 19 99 was related in an obvious way to the new legislation. Rather, they seem to be the result of changes in implementation of a specialized domestic violence court. ♦ If the legislation made a difference in whether important evidence was admitted during the course of trials, then there should have been a difference in conviction rates after passage of the new laws. However, no difference in tria l conviction rates was found between the two samples. ♦ Both samples were examined for differen ces in whether judges admitted prosecution evidence in trials. Three categories of evidence were examined: (1) statements, which III–4–5 An Evaluation of Efforts to Implement No-Drop Policies: Two Central Values in Conflict included statements and admissions made by defendants, statements by victims to the police, and statements to 911 operators; (2) witnesses, which included eyewitness testimony, police witness testimony, medical testimony, and expert witness testimony; and (3) corroborating evidence, which included physical evidence, photog raphic evidence, medical records, copies of restraining orders, and prior violence by the abuser. Researchers found that witness testimony and corroborating evidence were almo st universally accepted by judges in both samples. In 9 cases out of 10 or better, judges allowed prosecutors to introduce these forms of evidence at trial. Prosecutor s were less successful with defendant or victim statements in 1996, when they were admitted in only 72 perc ent of cases. In 1999, however, statements were admitted in 89 percent of cases in wh ich prosecutors tried to introduce them. ♦ Because San Diego had a large trial sample ( N = 90), the researchers were able to examine the effects of evidence on trial outcomes in wa ys not possible in the other sites. They found that none of the forms of evidence significantly influenced the outcome of trials among the entire sample or among no-drop cases. Everett In 1997, the Everett Police Department received a Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) grant that created a domestic violence unit that brought together prosecutor, police, and victim services coordinators under one roof to increase co llaboration. An experienced domestic violence prosecutor was hired to introduce a more aggressive style of prosecution and teamed with specialized domestic violence police officers and a victim coordinator. The researchers examined data from a sample of 156 cases before and 200 cases after the start of the policy. They compared processing time, tria l rates, and guilty plea rates. The pre-no-drop case files did not contain data on sentences, so re searchers were not able to compare rates of jail terms, no-contact orders, or conditions of probation. Key findings in Everett showed that— ♦ Processing time declined from 109 days to 80 days after the formation of the special domestic violence unit. ♦ Dismissals declined from 79 percent of di spositions to 26 percent of dispositions. Conversely, adjudications of guilt (by plea or trial) increased from 19 percent to 53 percent and diversion dispositions increased from 2 percent to 22 percent. ♦ The implementation of the no-drop policy resulted in a large increase in trials, from 1 percent before formation of the unit to 10 percent after. Prosecutors won four in five of the trials held after the shift in policy. Klamath Falls In 1996, Klamath Falls received a grant from OVW’ s pro-arrest program to implement a no-drop policy. A subsequent grant was received the following year. In the first year, the grant supported a full-time deputy district attorn ey, two probation and parole officers, two victim advocates, a unit coordinator, and a member of the clergy. In the second year, Klamath Falls added a second full-time deputy district attorney, an attorney to supervise the unit, and an investigator. The III–4–6 An Evaluation of Efforts to Implement No-Drop Policies: Two Central Values in Conflict analysis of case outcomes before and after the 1996 no-drop policy revealed findings similar to those in Everett: ♦ Dismissals and acquittals droppe d from 47 percent before the policy change to 14 percent after. ♦ The proportion of diversion dispositions dropped from 6 percent before no-drop to 0 percent after. ♦ Adjudications of guilt rose from 47 percent to 86 percent. ♦ The proportion of cases resulting in trials jumped from 1 percent before the no-drop policy to 13 percent after. The prosecutor in Klamath w on 63 percent of trials after the no-drop policy was put into effect. Omaha VAWA grant funds were used to establish a special prosecution unit in the county attorney’s office to aggressively prosecute domestic violence cases. Staffed by five persons, the unit adopted a no-drop policy so that cases would be pu rsued even when victims refused to cooperate with officials. In addition, grant funds were used to create a specialized unit in the police department to conduct fo llowup investigations on domestic viol ence calls. The unit also uses the police department’s victim advocat es in domestic violence cases. In Omaha, the researchers were unable to obt ain information on case dispositions before and after implementation of the no-drop policy. A shift in responsibility for prosecuting misdemeanor domestic violence cases from the city attorney to the county attorney coincided with a major improvement in recordkeeping. A different question, therefore, was asked in Omaha. The researchers had heard from Omaha officials that judges differed widely in thei r willingness to admit evidence in the absence of victims on the trial date. Some judges were said to be receptive to admitting hearsay evidence while others were described as reluctant. The re searchers analyzed dispositions in cases in which victims were absent on the trial date according to the perceived receptivity of judges to a no-drop policy. They expected to find more frequent us e of no-drop (i.e., fewer trial date dismissals) when judges sympathetic to no- drop policies presided. Instead, they found little difference in dismissal rates between judges rated as sympathetic and those rated as hostile to no-drop. The major finding was that roughly four in five cases were dismissed when victims were absent on the trial date for both groups of judges. No-drop efforts largely failed in Omaha. From Victim Interviews Across the Four Sites ♦ Seventy-nine percent of victims wanted the defendant to be arrested. ♦ Seventy percent of victims were satisfied with the police, 4 percent reported feeling somewhat satisfied, and 26 percent were dissatisfied. Satisfaction with the prosecutor was slightly less but still substantial. Sixty-four pe rcent were satisfied, 9 percent were somewhat III–4–7 An Evaluation of Efforts to Implement No-Drop Policies: Two Central Values in Conflict satisfied, and 27 percent were dissatisfied. Similar marks were awarded to judges. Sixty- seven percent were satisfied, 8 percent were somewhat satisfied, and 25 percent were dissatisfied. Case outcome satisfaction rates were ranked lo wer. Fifty-nine percent were satisfied, 13 percent were somewhat satisfied, and 29 percent were dissatisfied. ♦ Eighty-three percent of victims reported that they had seen or heard from the defendant since the disposition of the case. With the important exception of verbal abuse, most victims had not been bothered by the defendant. ♦ Most victims interviewed had positive things to say about the wisdom of prosecuting. In hindsight, 85 percent of victims said they came to see the prosecution as helpful. Only 10 percent said prosecution was not a good thing, and 5 percent said it was both good and bad. ♦ Seventy-nine percent of the victims said they would call the police if reabused in the future. Only 11 percent said they would not call and 10 percent said it would depend on the circumstance. The victim interview results have to be treated cautiously. Vi ctim response rates were low (21 percent in Omaha, 20 percent in San Diego, 17 percent in Klamath Falls, and 14 percent in Everett). Domestic violence populations are notoriously hard to reach, especially using a retrospective design as was employed in this study. The researchers attempted to reach victims several months after disposition of their case. The design was selected to allow questions to be asked about a victim’s sa tisfaction with the case and officials and about renewed problems with the abuser. But the researchers found that ma ny victims had changed their phone numbers sometime after arrests were made (actual refusal rates were small if victims could be reached by phone). Compared with other studies, the response rate in this study was very low. Because researchers were able to interview less than one-fifth of the sample, it is unlikely that the victim interview results are representative of the popul ation of victims in the four study sites. It is probable that the victims who remained in one place and ke pt the same phone number are different in fundamental ways from those who relocated or changed their numbers. Those who make themselves hard to find may be hiding from the de fendant or from the prosecutor. If that were the case, then these victims would have a quite different perspective from the victims researchers contacted. Implications for Researchers The victim interview data suggested that victims may view prosecution as beneficial, even those victims who initially did not want any criminal justice action beyond arrest. However, the researchers stressed that they were unsuccessful in locating most of the victims they sought to interview, making it very unlikely that the interview results are representative of the victim populations in the study sites. Therefore, re searchers found it difficult to conclude whether victims benefit when criminal justice professionals assume the exclusive right to decide when to prosecute and what outcome to seek. Further study of the impact of no-drop policy on victims is needed. III–4–8 An Evaluation of Efforts to Implement No-Drop Policies: Two Central Values in Conflict Implications for Practitioners The researchers drew several implications and lessons from the study for practitioners. First, no- drop is more a philosophy than a strict po licy of prosecuting domestic violence cases. No prosecutor pursued ever y case he or she filed. Prosecutors were rational decisionmakers who were most likely to proceed without the victim’s cooperation if they had a strong case based on other evidence. Of course, definitions of what constitutes strong evidence varied from site to site, and some prosecutors were more likely to persist in the face of an unwilling victim than others were. None chose to proceed with every case in which the victim was unwilling to cooperate. Second, adopting a no-drop policy can boost convictions dramatically. In the two sites in which pre- and post-impleme ntation data were available, extraord inarily large increases in conviction rates, declines in processing time, and large increases in th e number of trials were found. Third, implementing no-drop policy requires significant case screening up front. Arrests with weak evidence need to be rejected by prosecutors so that they can credibly claim that they can prosecute the remainder of cases regardless of what the victim wants or does. All the sites engaged in significant screening of domestic viol ence cases, refusing to file as many as 30 percent. Fourth, a successful no-drop policy requires judg es who are willing to admit hearsay or excited utterances from victims, statements from defendants, or documentation of prior bad acts. Fifth, no-drop prosecution is expensive. Successf ul implementation of no-drop policy involves significant training of police in evidence gathering, a realization that more cases will go to resource-intensive trials, and the energy to persuade judges to accept forms of evidence that historically have been consid ered controversial. Moreover, it is not enough to encourage arresting officers to do a better job gathering evidence; it is also necessary to have specialized officers (working closely with prosecutors) to conduct followup investigations. Intensive training, special units, and thorough invest igations require substantial resources. III–4–9