The inability to recognize risk factors in domestic violence incidents contributes immensely to the potential of that incident to turn lethal. The New York State Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team examines cases over the last 7 years and iterates the importance of an all-hands-on-deck approach when it comes to addressing DV, from the different agencies involved as well as the victim, the victim’s support system, and the community.
Mary Walsh and Sara Mahoney lead this Justice Clearinghouse session to talk about domestic violence fatality and how probations can make all the difference in these cases. Mary is the Coordinator of the NYS DV Fatality Review Team. In her role, she advises the Executive and Legislative bodies of the state on domestic violence policies and practice, trains professionals, and serves as a public resource on domestic violence awareness, programs, and best practices. Meanwhile, Sara is a Specialized Probation Officer for the Allegany County Probation Department focusing on domestic violence cases and facilitating their DV offender program.
Specifics that Mary and Sara discussed in this webinar include:
- Overview statistics on the prevalence of intimate partner homicide in New York State.
- The concept of fatality reviews, its goal, and principles.
- The NYS DV Fatality Review Team: Its founding, scope, case review methodology, sources of information, and members.
- The findings of the NYS DV Fatality Review Team’s analysis of 23 cases.
- Identified red flags that appear repeatedly in the cases reviewed that consider criminal history, type of offenses committed, and circumstances surrounding the homicide.
- Prior system contacts of the offender – the most common systems in contact with, and the number of system contacts.
- How communication, collaboration, creative strategies, willingness to learn, and concern from the bench builds strength in the communities to prevent and fight DV-related homicides.
- Challenges and issues seen in the systems and the cases relating to accountability, court access, informal systems, and trauma/mental health.
- The areas of focus that can help resolve the problem with DV-related homicide through training and awareness, and collaboration and information sharing.
- The number of probation and parole offenders and the violent felony arrests in New York State that highlights the probability of a probation officer working with these populations.
- Various researches that supported the findings of the NYS DV Fatality Review Team when it comes to:
- The typology of the offenders who are likely to commit DV-related homicide.
- The lethality indicators and circumstances that typically lead to DV-related homicide.
- The critical role of probation to mitigate the problem of DV-related homicides and address the challenges in these cases.
- Utilizing the Pre-Sentence Investigation (PSI) to gather as much information on the offender’s life and criminal history.
- Fulfilling the all-inclusive quality of the PSI through extensive criminal history searches through the Domestic Incident Report (DIR) that looks at patterns of behavior, victim and criminal history, and threats made.
- Acquiring detailed victim and collateral statements that may reveal any of the red flags or lethality indicators of the offender.
- Working and fostering relationships with advocates, other criminal justice agencies, and informal support systems for better case outcomes.
Topics covered in the Q&A include:
- Information that may come from the dispatcher.
- What an intimate partner disclosure form and a conditional discharge is.
- The DV programming/Batterer’s Intervention Program being used in New York State.
- Evidence-based prosecution when the victim refuses to cooperate.
- The benefits of being reviewed by the DV Fatality Review Team for the case.
- Obstacles when it comes to looking at criminal history for tribal governments.
Handouts and Resources
- New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence NYS Executive Law 575
- Red Flag Cards
- Practice Brief: Identifying Victims of IPV under Supervision
- Assessing Risk Factors for Intimate Partner Homicide
- Practical Implications of Current Domestic Violence Research: for Law Enforcement, Prosecutors, and Judges
- URL referenced: National Domestic Violence Fatality Review Initiative
- “I was glad for the reminder that almost half of homicides against a female are IPV related.” — Anna
- “I found NY’s domestic incident report interesting. I don’t believe my state has that. I’m sure it is extremely valuable, especially when you consider detailed victim accounts and patterns of behavior.” — Britney
- “I’m in the DV unit so it was very beneficial. During this crisis I am still making contacts with probationers; I believe this is extremely important.” — Caryn
- “It was good information and well put together. The entire webinar was valued.” — Christi
- “This webinar absolutely provided my staff with the encouragement and outside acknowledgment of the importance of what we do. So, thank you for acknowledging our importance and reminding us of the importance of out of state research! My staff are empowered once again by this outside confirmation.” — Cris
- “I like how Sara recommended things to do when writing PSI’s, like collateral contacts and out-of-state criminal histories. I learned about an Intimate partner disclosure form, which I didn’t know existed and where I can find one.” — Elizabeth
- “Being from New York, I was already aware of the Fatality Review team, and our area had the opportunity to have a case reviewed. Having seen the impressive process to address areas of concern for an investigation as an After Action Review (AAR) type process was a great experience to learn from tragic circumstances. This webinar gave me more of a review of steps that can be taken to protect very vulnerable victims.” — Ronald