Coordinated Community Responses to Domestic Violence in Six Communities: Beyond the Justice System. Formulate a response at each step in the process


The overall impact of the criminal justice response is only as strong as its weakest link. For example, a strong police response does little good if prosecutors do not move forward on the cases, judges do not sentence offenders to interventions, and probation does not assure compliance. In order to bring about systemwide changes, a community needs to raise the consciousness of each agency about their role in addressing domestic violence and how this role interacts with and affects the ability of other agencies to respond to this issue. A strong community response to domestic violence requires that each part of the criminal justice system has appropriate policies that are followed in practice. In many of the communities in this study, individual agencies developed their policies through discussions with other justice agencies and domestic violence service providers to ensure that the policy was appropriate and compatible with other agencies' procedures. Establishing this rapport may be difficult in communities where relationships among justice agencies or between justice agencies and domestic violence service providers are not well-developed or even, at times, antagonistic. However, the interaction among these agencies in the study communities was an important part of the process of developing a coordinated response.