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«Evaluation of Three Court-Mandated Family Violence Interventions: FVEP, EXPLORE, and EVOLVE Stephen M. Cox, Ph.D. Professor Pierre M. Rivolta, Ph.D. ...»

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Table 7 shows there was a statistical relationship between FVEP completion and the level of family violence risk scores. There were slight differences in the completion rates for low risk family violence offenders (87%), moderate risk (84%), and high risk (83%) offenders. Very high risk offenders had the lowest completion rate (75%). There was not a statistical relationship between the immediate risk to the victim and FVEP completion.

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The final analysis looked at average differences between FVEP completers and noncompleters for offenders’ age at the time of arrest, total DVSI-R risk score, and the number of arrests and family violence arrests prior to offenders’ family violence arrests in 2010 (Table 8).

There were statistically significant differences for all four of these characteristics. Offenders completing the FVEP were older (33.6 years old compared to 28.6 years old), had lower risk scores (7.97 to 8.82), had fewer prior arrests (2.6 compared to 4.1) and fewer prior family violence arrests (0.48 to 0.72).

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FVEP One Year Arrests The primary outcome analysis compared one year arrest rates13 between the two study groups (Table 9). Of the FVEP participants, 26% were arrested within one year of program discharge while 36% of offenders in the FVEP comparison group were arrested within one year of their initial arrest. These differences were statistically significant.

Since this was a pretrial program it was possible for defendants to have their cases disposed prior to the end of the one year follow-up period. To control for this, we did not count case disposition as an arrest in our follow-up analysis and only looked at new arrests.

Court-Mandated Family Violence Interventions Central Connecticut State University

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For new arrests for family violence incidents, 16% of the FVEP participants were arrested compared to 18% of the FVEP comparison group (Table 10). These differences were not statistically significant.

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The next step was to look at the arrest rate of the 777 offenders who participated in the FVEP but were not included in our matched study group (Table 11). We conducted this analysis to address concerns that we biased the results by omitting this group from the comparison. The FVEP treatment-unmatched group actually had a significantly lower arrest rate (21%) than the FVEP treatment group (26%). This finding demonstrates that our matching procedures did not artificially inflate the effects of the FVEP on one-year recidivism rates.

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We conducted the same analysis for new family violence arrests (Table 12). Similar to any criminal arrest, offenders in the FVEP treatment group had a statistically significantly higher arrest rate than offenders who attended the FVEP but were not included in the study (16% to 11%).

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Court-Mandated Family Violence Interventions Central Connecticut State University Effect Size Calculations for FVEP Effect size statistics were calculated by comparing the differences in one year arrest rates for any criminal arrest and family violence arrests for the FVEP treatment group and the FVEP comparison group.

Table 12 presents the two effect size measures we used for this study. The dcox effect size for any new arrest was small to moderate and statistically significant, indicating that the FVEP did have an effect on reducing arrests for the treatment group. However, the effect size for new family violence arrests was small and not statistically significant, indicating that FVEP participants did not have a lower arrest rate than the FVEP comparison group. Further, when interpreting the effect size it is important to keep in mind the greater the negative effect size, the greater the effect at reducing recidivism. For example, the effect size of -0.29 indicates the FVEP produced a greater reduction of any type of arrests than for family violence arrests, since the effect size for this was -0.09.

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We use the odds ratios to put the effects into perspective. Offenders who never attended the FVEP were 1.61 times more likely to be arrested within one year than FVEP participants.

Likewise, offenders who never attended the FVEP were 1.15 times more likely to be arrested for a family violence offense within one year than FVEP participants.

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EXPLORE is a 26-week 26 session post-conviction and post-plea program for male family violence offenders (1.5 hour sessions, once per week) based on a cognitive behavioral therapeutic framework. Its purpose is to foster behavioral change through developing awareness, building positive interpersonal skills, and understanding the harmful effects of family violence on victims and children.

Matching Process for EXPLORE

The first step in the EXPLORE analysis was to create a comparison group by identifying all offenders who may have been eligible for EXPLORE but were not referred. Since EXPLORE is a post-plea program, the initial list of eligible EXPLORE offenders was comprised of those individuals arrested in 2010 for family violence offenses who were convicted and sentenced to probation but not referred to EXPLORE. Even though convicted offenders may be eligible for EXPLORE their referral and participation can be affected by a number of reasons, many of which occur during the pretrial plea bargaining process. For example, a defendant may agree to plead guilty to a family violence offense or an accompanying charge if the sentence consists of probation supervision without the court-imposed condition of attending EXPLORE. Another way, similar to the FVEP, is that a probationer may be ordered to attend EXPLORE but will be permitted by the judge to substitute non-Judicial programming such as private counseling, couple’s therapy, or anger management. Another possible explanation is that a probationer may be ordered to attend EXPLORE only after attending a different program such as substance abuse or mental health. If the probationer does not complete the initial program the judge may change the order and not require the probationer to attend EXPLORE. Unfortunately, data are not collected that would allow us to know the exact reasons why eligible probationers do not attend EXPLORE14. We were able to identify 2,116 probationers convicted of a family violence offense who were not referred to a family violence program. These offenders were the basis for the noprogram comparison group.

The EXPLORE treatment study group and the no-program comparison group were then merged to create one large dataset, hereafter referred to as the EXPLORE merged sample. This merged sample consisted of a total of 2,904 cases: 788 EXPLORE participants and 2,116 noprogram comparison cases. Data in each group were then checked for missing values. A total of 164 cases had missing court or DVSI-R information and were removed from the data set. After deleting these cases the data set was reduced to 788 EXPLORE participants and 1,952 noprogram comparison cases (total N = 2,740).

Following the sampling procedure detailed above, propensity score matching (PSM) was employed to minimize selection bias and ensure the subjects in the comparison group were similar to treated subjects on 14 covariates (i.e., age at arrest, racial/ethnic group membership, court, DVSI-R total score, DVSI-R risk level, DVSI-R risk to victim, DVSI-R dual arrest, During and prior to 2010 probation officers rarely added probation conditions for EXPLORE attendance. Since 2010, Judicial Branch-CSSD policy has been revised to encourage probation officers to refer eligible probationers to EXPLORE without a court-ordered condition.

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number of prior arrests, number of prior family violence arrests, number of prior jail sentences, number of prior probation sentences, number of prior family violence jail sentences, and number of prior family violence probation sentences).15 The process began by aggregating the groups using a custom SPSS plug-in (see Thoemmes, 2012). The program used logistic regression as an estimation algorithm to calculate the propensity score for each of the subjects in the dataset using the 14 covariates specified above. And then, using the nearest neighbor matching algorithm, the program matched one subject in the treatment group (i.e., EXPLORE participants) to one subject in the comparison pool (i.e., no-program) to which the propensity score most closely matched the treatment subject’s propensity score (i.e., 1:1 nearest neighbor matching), without replacement. The program repeated the process until each treatment subject was matched to a comparison subject.

During the propensity score matching procedure, cases in the no-program comparison group that were not matched to EXPLORE participants (n=1,164) were removed from the data set. As a result, there were 788 no-program comparison subjects matched to 788 EXPLORE participants. Following the matching procedure, the balance of all observed covariates as well as interaction among all covariates were examined. No covariates exhibited a large imbalance (|d|.25). The overall balance test was also not significant (chi-square = 6.327, df = 18, p=0.995), and the relative multivariate imbalance measure L1 was larger in the unmatched sample (0.993) than in the matched sample (0.964). These measures indicate the matching procedure successfully improved balance between groups. In addition, diagnostic plots were produced and show that covariate balance was greatly improved in the matched sample. A selection of plots is presented hereafter.

Figure 4 shows the distribution of propensity scores of EXPLORE participants (“treated”) and no-program cases (“control”) before and after matching with overlaid kernel density estimate.

Note: the EXPLORE program is designed for male batterers only. As such, there was no need to match on gender since all program participants were male.

Court-Mandated Family Violence Interventions Central Connecticut State University Figure 4. Distribution of Propensity Scores for the EXPLORE Study Groups Figure 5 below shows the line plot of standardized differences before and after matching.

Court-Mandated Family Violence Interventions Central Connecticut State University Figure 5. Line Plot of Standardized Matching Differences Figure 6 below shows histograms with overlaid kernel density estimates of standardized differences before and after matching.

Figure 6. Histograms of Standardized Matching Differences Comparison of EXPLORE Matched Study Groups Following the matching process we conducted several comparative tests to assure the EXPLORE treatment group was similar to the EXPLORE comparison group.

Table 14 shows this analysis for race/ethnicity. White offenders made up the highest percentage of the Court-Mandated Family Violence Interventions Central Connecticut State University EXPLORE study group (40%) followed by Hispanics (29%) and African-Americans (29%).

While there were some small differences in these percentages they were not statistically significant and indicate the study groups were similar in terms of race/ethnicity

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Table 15 presents the results of a similar analysis but looking at DVSI-R risk levels (risk categories and the immediate risk to the victim). The majority of EXPLORE participants were high risk (43%) or very high risk (25%) and posed a high risk to victims (72%). Again, while there were some differences in these percentages between the two study groups, these differences were not statistically significant and we conclude the groups were similar in terms of the DVSIR assessment.

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The final comparative set of analyses assessed average differences for offenders’ age at arrest, DVSI-R total risk score, number of prior arrests, and number of prior family violence arrests (Table 16). The average age for both study groups was 34 years old, their DVSI-R total risk score was 13.11, both groups had an average of seven prior arrests and close to two prior family violence arrests. There were no statistically significant differences between the two study groups as evidenced by the t-test statistics.

Court-Mandated Family Violence Interventions Central Connecticut State University

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Differences Between EXPLORE Program Completers and Non-Completers The first set of outcome analyses for the EXPLORE study groups consisted of comparing program completers to non-completers. Overall, the EXPLORE program had a 68% completion rate. In looking at differences, we found a statistically significant relationship between race/ethnicity and program completion (Table 17). White EXPLORE participants were more likely to complete the program (a 73% completion rate) than African-American participants (70%) and Hispanic participants (59%). These findings differ from FVEP program completion, in that, Hispanic FVEP participants had a higher completer than African-American participants (83% to 80%).

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Table 18 presents the comparison of EXPLORE completers to non-completers for DVSIR assessment scores. While higher risk offenders had lower completion rates than lower risk offenders, these differences were not statistically significant.

Court-Mandated Family Violence Interventions Central Connecticut State University

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We did find statistically significant differences between EXPLORE completers and noncompleters when looking at age at the time of their family violence arrest and prior arrests (Table 19). EXPLORE completers were significantly older (35 years old compared to 31 years old).

Whereas, EXPLORE non-completers had a more extensive criminal history with more average prior arrests (9 to 7) and slightly more prior family violence arrests (1.85 vs. 1.52).

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EXPLORE One Year Arrests The one year arrest rates following program discharge or initial arrest were compared between the EXPLORE treatment and the EXPLORE comparison groups (Table 20). The EXPLORE treatment group had a significantly lower arrest rate than the comparison group (30% to 51%).

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