After the Webinar: Testing Focused Deterrence Strategies to Reduce Habitual IPV Recidivism. Q&A with the Presenters

Webinar presenters Chief Rich Johnston and Madison Charman answered a number of your questions after their presentation, Testing Focused Deterrence Strategies to Reduce Habitual IPV Recidivism. Here are just a few of their responses.


Audience Question: While these checks are being conducted with offenders, did your study also include outreach to victims? She’s curious to see if a combination of checks on offenders for compliance and offers for services for victims might have made a difference. 

Rich Johnston: So, thank you for the question. And I think it’s an excellent question, because exactly where we thought initially. And when we first looked at rolling this strategy out, we’ve actually met with our victim services. We would provide a cell phone to our victim services. And there would be a text sent that they were updated. And if they wanted to speak with somebody in terms of did they want to access resources. And that was initially, we had thought about that, and then quite quickly it was pointed out, like, with respect to the police, what are you doing, and why are you there? And, as a police organization, perhaps, it was just that, we fell back to that historic model, do no harm, but try to reduce recidivism versus trying to meet the victims where they’re at. I completely agree with you. If we were able to access victim services and put them in touch with them, or in some way, reduce the victimization, that at the end of the day, will be the greatest win. That is not what we tried to do, nor did we accomplish, but I absolutely loved the thinking there. Yes.


Audience Question: Was there any attention paid to unintended consequences to the victim as a result of these visits? 

Rich Johnston: So, again. Oh, no, softballs here. These questions are good. Because when we look at intimate partner violence, there is a concern that, once intimate partner violence is reported, does that have the potential to increase the frequency or the level of the severity of the offending? We did contemplate that at the front end. What we know is that right now, we don’t do anything. So, someone gets charged, and they get released. And then we’re, and these were the individuals that had a history or a background with respect to offending in terms of intimate partner violence and crime. So, we have to try something. Absolutely, that is a concern. But we balance that in terms of, right now what we’re doing, nothing. And so, we would monitor that, and we’ll look at that, but we don’t, we didn’t, you can see from the results of that, we didn’t see any. There was nothing categorical that we can say about it. But the reality is, yes, it was a factor we considered. But we have to try, and you do the best you can until you know better and when you know better, you do better. I think that was Maya Angelou I think credited with that.


Audience Question: Once you’re able to address some of the shortcomings, are you going to look to rerun the study again?

Rich Johnston: I love this question. I would love to. I think things have changed in terms of the dynamic at this organization, in terms of seeing the value of it. I would certainly involve more people at the operational level, in terms of how we would do it. I think Madison’s point about procedurally just contact is incredibly important. If it’s purely punitive, I don’t think we win the day in terms of legitimacy across an organization, even from the victim side how police performance did, at the end of the day, it’s about reduced victimization and a recidivist who is interacting with a level of human dignity that is important for them. I would love to do it because I actually do believe other research may support the reduction of the frequency. I’m not looking at the high harm that we may not know about, again with —— the unreported, but I think it’s possible.

Madison Charman: I think, as a service, we have continued to move towards evidence-based policing, and I think we do have the infrastructure in place that something like this would be able to roll out considering these implementation challenges. And we have essentially the resources and the ability to then mitigate those. It just, it really depends on, you know, are we trying the same thing again, or are we going to, that victim-focused connecting with agencies to see. So, we may roll out a version of this project, but we may do so in the victim-focused realm instead.


Audience Question: We’ve actually got a couple of people asking the same question. Did you look at the ACE scores for the individuals? 

Madison Charman: That is a great question, and we actually, after this project, engaged in a huge research project on youth and ACEs. And, again, it’s you don’t know what you don’t know, and so if only we had the amount of knowledge we did when we do now about the ACEs. No, we didn’t. That is a great point. However, I think, for us, the challenge would be how to collect that information. I know there are pre-determined ACE scales. However, is it within the police’s scope to ask some of those personal questions? Getting that information would be tough. We could try and do things based on what we have in police reports. Information we have currently if anything has been reported. But ultimately, that does leave the chance of having lower scores and kind of underestimating scores. But we do know a large amount of the population that we serve in terms of criminal justice clients have an extensive history of adverse childhood experiences. And that is something in our youth program, we’re targeting to essentially lower that and then hopefully lower future criminality, but that is a great, great angle and it all depends on the collection of that information.


Audience Question: Did the supervised participants know that they were part of a study at any point?

Rich Johnston: So, some did, when they asked, it was interesting, and just as an aside, but that we go into the anecdotal, one individual call to complain to the organization. And I actually received a call, and these are one of those things that we didn’t predict, actually. A few did call in one individual, and, again, because it’s anonymous. And the reality is, that’s what we deal with, in policing their complaint was specific in that. So, they had been charged and released with intimate partner violence and had done so in the past, but they had called to complain that the repeated visits over time. We’re more onerous with respect to… This individual had committed weapons offenses, but the probation officer that they were associated with for that, checked on them far less than we were doing it. And I mean, it’s, you live in a bizarre universe sometimes. The short answer is it depends, but again, you look back and it’s a little bit bizarre.

Madison Charman: It is bizarre. Actually, we had one person in the treatment group that complained, he was charged multiple times with harassment. I think he called his ex-partner over 70 times a day and was really annoyed by our third or fourth check, which I felt personally a little ironic. However, in those situations we didn’t go on our first check and announced, say, Hey, you’re part of this study. We have the legal ability to check based on somebody who has been released on condition. So that’s not an issue. But if they asked, why are you coming around, while we’re working on this new initiative where we’re checking in a little bit more frequently? So, it was never secret, but it wasn’t also something you necessarily announced, because the idea was to still be a little bit more unexpected in our visits. So, if we put out front, hey, you’re part of this new project, we’re going to be coming once a month, Who knows that could have its own deterrent effect, but for this project, that’s not the strategy.


Audience Question: Did you look at whether the individuals had undergone mandated training for reducing IPV?

Rich Johnston: We did not.

Madison Charman: But we looked at the conditions they were on previously from previous charges, and that’s not something that comes up, that came up on any of them, which is actually really interesting. I don’t know, is that not something that happens often?

Rich Johnston: We do have a PARs program. There are programs, what we did not capture, and nor do we account for that. So, I mean, that the straightforward answer is no, we didn’t actually factor that in. A good question.



Click Here to Watch a Recording of Testing Focused Deterrence Strategies to Reduce Habitual IPV Recidivism. 



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