Coordinated Community Responses to Domestic Violence in Six Communities: Beyond the Justice System. Criminal Justice Response


Within the criminal justice agencies, specialized units serve as "consultants" both within and outside their own organizations, in addition to handling their own cases. Other agencies know to contact staff in these specialized units about domestic violence cases. For example, pretrial release services, the police department, and the F.A.S.T. Unit all contact the domestic violence unit in the State's Attorney's Office for information or advice about domestic violence cases. Social service providers sometimes contact designated police personnel in their districts about a particular case. Since the agencies have instituted special domestic violence units, staff reported receiving more calls for coordination or advice about domestic violence cases.

Batterer intervention programs in Baltimore often interact with probation agents, particularly members of the F.A.S.T. unit. The two primary intervention programs are run by the House of Ruth (a 22 week program based on the Duluth model) and Harbel (a group specifically for substance abusers who batter). Staff at both agencies know the F.A.S.T. agents by name, and the open communication between the program staff and probation officers helps to ensure that batterers attend the programs or are held accountable if they do not. F.A.S.T. unit agents stated that because their knowledge of the intervention program rules, enables them to better identify and address probationer noncompliance.

To date, Baltimore's coordination efforts have not been extensively evaluated. However, both the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges as well as the American Prosecutors Research Institute have contacted the DVCC about evaluating their Domestic Violence Court once it is in place.