Social Control Theory: A Test of Treatment Amenability and Recidivism in Domestic Violence Offenders

Carol R. Gregory, University of Delaware

Batterer's Intervention Programs have been developed, implemented and evaluated as part of community corrections in the United States over the last few decades. Evaluations have generally supported the effectiveness of these programs in terms of completion and recidivism; offenders who complete BIP are less likely to reoffend during follow-up periods. The policy implications of this finding would seem clear; offenders should attend treatment. However, there are practical barriers to this conclusion. First, approximately half of all men referred to BIP fail to complete treatment. Second, offenders who are allowed to remain in the community have a greater opportunity to reoffend than those who are incapacitated through jail sentences. Finally, criminal justice resources vary by location and it may not be feasible to offer treatment to all offenders who are referred to these programs. These types of constraints have spurred the use of risk assessment instruments to guide criminal justice professions in sentencing and treatment decisions. These have been primarily stock instruments informed by psychological theory that were developed for other types of programs, are peripheral to the concerns of the program or diagnose psychological disorders/personality types without correlation to programmatic goals.

Instruments that are particular to the domestic violence population, are informed by sociological/criminological theory, and are specific to the likelihood of completing treatment in the community corrections setting are needed. This project is an attempt to develop an instrument based on social control theory and test its ability to predict treatment outcomes.

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Updated 05/20/2006