A Specialized Juvenile Domestic and Family Violence Court

Inger Sagatun-Edwards, San Jose State University
Hon. Eugene M. Hyman, Superior Court of California
Tracy Lafontaine, San Jose State University
Erin Serrano-Nelson, San Jose State University

Juvenile domestic and family violence are serious social problems. In this paper, domestic violence refers to violence against a girlfriend/boyfriend, while family violence refers to violence against siblings and parents. States and jurisdictions vary widely in the way their legislation and juvenile courts react to such violence. This paper reviews the relevant research literature and law, and then describes a specialized juvenile court program aimed at early intervention for young offenders and their victims. The Santa Clara County Domestic and Family Violence Court program identifies all juvenile domestic violence cases at intake, refers minors to a specialized juvenile court calendar with intensive court supervision, and provides enhanced services to juvenile offenders, their victims and families. The background, interventions, and recidivism rates of a group of DV/FV juvenile offenders in the specialized program (N=112) are compared with a group of DV/FV juveile offenders prior to the initiation of the program (N=59). The data are taken from juvenile and adult probation and court records. We also discuss the offenders' family history of child abuse and domestic violence, and the gender and interactive patterns of the violence. The paper concludes by providing an evaluation of this specialized juvenile court intervention program.

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Updated 05/20/2006