The Judicial Oversight Demonstration (JOD) Initiative tests the idea that a coordinated community response to domestic violence that ensures a focused judicial response and a systematic criminal justice response can improve victim safety and service provision, as well as increase offender accountability.
During fiscal year 1999, three demonstration sites were competitively selected to participate in a five-year demonstration initiative: City of Boston/Dorchester District Court, MA; Washtenaw County, Ann Arbor, MI; and Milwaukee County, WI. Since implementation, each demonstration site has developed multiple governmental and non-governmental partnerships working to address domestic violence.
Domestic Violence Courts: Reducing Pretrial Domestic Violence
A critical issue in domestic violence cases is the risk of continued victimization during the pretrial period. Offenders may violate no-contact orders, further injure victims, or intimidate them.
To minimize these risks, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women and NIJ initiated the Judicial Oversight Demonstration, a field test that asked:
- Judges to take a more active role in managing domestic violence cases before trial.
- Sites to dedicate courts or days to processing domestic violence cases only.
- Sites to expand services for domestic violence victims.
- Courts to monitor defendants before trial and respond to violations with penalties.
In partnership with a number of court-related partners, judges oversaw all aspects of the case, from hearings to sanctions and treatment programs given to batterers.
Courts in three locations — Dorchester, Mass.; Milwaukee, Wisc.; and Washtenaw County (Ann Arbor), Mich. — participated in the field test.
Participating communities worked to achieve three objectives:
- Provide consistent responses to domestic violence offenses. Police departments created pro-arrest policies and arrested the primary aggressor at the crime scene.
- Coordinate victim advocacy and services. Victim advocates worked with law enforcement and the court to contact the victim quickly after an incident, develop a safety plan for the victim, and provide treatment services.
- Enforce strong offender accountability and monitoring. Courts carefully supervised arrestees, referred them to intervention programs, and instituted penalties if arrestees violated the terms of their probation.