Domestic violence cases can get problematic given the relationship dynamics between offender and victim. Likelihood of re-offense is also high when the offender’s behavior isn’t addressed properly. Dallas County Probation Department innovated the way they deal with domestic violence cases through their Accountability Court Model that is designed to address the offender’s behavior and lethality risk factors.
On this session of the Catalyst4Chang series, Judge Brandon Birmingham and Dr. Jill Johansson-Love share their county’s Forensic Domestic Violence Court (FDVC) Program and how it was able to produce positive outcomes. Judge Brandon Birmingham is the Elected Judge of the 292nd Judicial District Court presiding at the Felony Domestic Violence Court program and the Criminal District Courts Dallas County. Meanwhile, Dr. Jill Johansson-Love is the Interim Deputy Director of Dallas County CSCD. She is a psychologist, educator, and probation officer who is trained and has worked in various forensic settings.
Points discussed in this webinar include:
- Statistics that support the need to focus on Domestic Violence.
- The primary things to take into account when deciding to employ domestic violence assessment tools.
- The initial risk factors that will play a key role in the assessment as it reveals with the offense/offender, the victim, and the history or background of the offender and the victim.
- The types of violence that typically manifests in a domestic violence case and the two kinds of response programs (Batterers Intervention and Prevention or Anger Management) being offered.
- The steps that an offender will go through to be a part of the Forensic Domestic Violence Court Program
- Looking at lethality risk factors and danger assessment.
- Obtaining a psychological report that will indicate the type of program the offender will undertake.
- Referral from the originating court.
- The Danger Assessment Tool that is used to address lethality risk.
- The Forensic Domestic Violence Risk Evaluation that includes psychological and malingering testing and gathering information to provide context on the DV risk factors.
- The different recommendation options that an offender may be required or subjected to do as part of the program.
- A look into the timeline of the FDVC program, its phases, requirements and inclusions.
- The composition of the FDVC program court team and the roles played by each of them.
- The risk factor-related elements that must be constantly monitored with the offender.
- Questions to ask and other considerations to take into account when trying to understand domestic violence dynamics, the relationship between offender and victim, and the behaviors of both offender and victim.
- The needs for swift judicial intervention to impose accountability that ensures the safety of the victim and the community while also safeguarding the offender’s rights.
- The three types of violations that give rise to the final outcome of the case.
- The promising outcomes of the program through a comparative assessment of FDVC participants versus a controlled group.
- Questions from the webinar participants were on:
- Firearm prohibitions to high lethality offenders.
- Correlation between animal abuse and high lethality DV cases.
- Signs of high lethality offenders.
- Clarifications about instrumental and reactive violence.
- Qualifying for the FDVC program.
- The Danger Assessment tool in the program.
- The timelines of the BIPP compared to the standard program.
- The number of offenders being evaluated periodically.
- The costs involved in setting up the program and securing funding for it.
- “They discussed information that I hadn’t thought about.” –Vicki
- “The most valuable thing I learned was the main differences between high lethality DV offenders and those who are lower risk.” –Tina
- “The most valuable thing about this webinar is the amount of communication that occurs with the agency, the system, and community involved overall.” –Flor
- “The input from a judge’s point of view is invaluable!”– Apolonia
- “Our county does not currently have a court proceeding specifically for Domestic Violence cases. This has been very insightful. ” –Cynthia
- “I thought it was interesting how anger management may not be a proper intervention for someone who belongs in or could benefit from a BIP program.” –Lauren