Coordinated Community Responses to Domestic Violence in Six Communities: Beyond the Justice System. Batterer Intervention Programs

10/01/1996

Many people expressed dissatisfaction with the quality of batterer intervention programs in Kansas City. Over time the number of these programs has grown substantially. Up until about ten years ago, Kansas City had a single batterer intervention program which worked closely with the courts. The program had an office at the courthouse and initiated contact with the defendant as soon as he was assigned to the program. The program later lost its court-based office because of space constraints and because of the growth in new programs, in one person's opinion. Batterer intervention programs are not subject to state- or city-wide guidelines and the program's length and features vary widely. At one point, a provider allowed batterers to complete the program in a single weekend. Several years ago, Project Assist facilitated an effort to address concerns about the quality of these services, and met with the providers informally to develop standards for intervention programs. These standards serve as a guide to help referring agencies select a program, but they are not enforced.

Since probation is unsupervised for Kansas City Municipal Court cases, defendants who do not comply with orders for batterer intervention programs historically have not been charged quickly with noncompliance, if at all. For example, one man assigned to the batterer intervention program did not comply for six years and saw no repercussions. Recently, the Municipal Court judge established a policy requiring programs to report noncompliance within two months. For state cases, the batterer intervention programs deal directly with the probation officer, and one person felt that compliance on these cases is generally better. Some shelters in the area plan to begin their own batterer intervention programs in the near future in response to the perceived need for better quality services.