Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $850,000)
Spokane County has the highest rate of domestic violence incidents in the state of Washington and is on the rise. According to the Spokane Regional Health District, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 7 men in Spokane were not experiencing safe and healthy relationships in 2019. In 2020, domestic violence calls to law enforcement in Spokane rose 40%. Spokane County’s rate of domestic violence calls to law enforcement is the highest in the state of Washington and is more than double the state average.
Domestic violence offenders require a different approach to supervising them. Cunning and often manipulative, they can be among the most challenging of probationers to supervise (McCale, 2018). The current population of the DV-focused caseload disproportionately consists of individuals from black, single-parent or abusive households. These individuals come from unstable housing, family, employment, and community support backgrounds who often have anti-social, negative or unstable relationships with those who claim to support them. In addition, this population takes Community Corrections Officers more time to manage because of their habitual DV behavior. In general, these offenders are released homeless, jobless, and without proper education on healthy boundaries and relationships. It takes the victims an average of seven instances of serious abuse before they will leave the offender. Due to these factors, these offenders have a higher propensity of breaking their no-contact orders which causes a safety risk for the victims, themselves, and the community.
Mitigation of risk with DV specific offenders begins with structure and stability. DV offenders who have substance use disorder, mental health, or co-occurring disorders are exponentially higher risk of recidivism. Being homeless, unstably housed, or living in a high crime neighborhood all heighten a DV individual’s risk of reoffending (Andrews & Bonta, 1995).
DOC is proposing to hire two additional staff to focus on DV offenders to allow the caseloads to be at a manageable level and a victim advocate to work directly with identified victims. With the recent creation of the DV Court in Spokane County, these staff will work in conjunction with the court system to ensure the released individuals are compliant with their court requirements. The goal is to have CCO’s managing at max 8 DV individuals at a time. Grant monies will provide up to 3 months of housing for DV offenders, minor stipend to aid in purchasing house/clothing supplies, transportation pass, and cover the cost of six months of the Domestic Violence Perpetrator Program. By offering housing, it allows the offender to focus on getting a job. By covering the first six months cost of the yearlong evidence-based offender program, they will be able to finish the program before their supervision is over, which usually doesn’t happen.
This comprehensive approach is needed with multidisciplinary team involvement to address not only the intimate partner violence-related behaviors, but to provide the offender an individualized supervision approach including housing, programming, and other supportive assistance to ensure behavioral change.