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  • CDVSA Stakeholder Interview Project: Examining the State's Response to Domestic Violence

    Shimizu, Rei; Trawver, Kathi; Brocious, Heidi (2022-11-01)
    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Thirty-six percent of criminal cases in Alaska are flagged as domestic violence (DV), and cases are increasing annually. Additionally, more than half of adult women in Alaska have experienced intimate partner violence (IPV) and/or sexual assault at least once in their lifetime. Clearly, DV is a pervasive public health issue in Alaska, even though DV is recognized as a crime and legal mechanisms are in place to address them. Therefore, this study aimed to comprehensively understand DV in Alaska in the context of the overall judicial response to DV. Confidential interviews were conducted with victim advocates, Battering Intervention Program (BIP) providers, probation officers, law enforcement, judges, and attorneys (prosecutor and defense) from the six Alaska regions (i.e., Southeast, Southcentral, Southwest, Western, Arctic, and Interior). Three research questions guided the study: 1. What is the current state of DV in Alaska from the perspectives of the stakeholders who enforce or work within DV statutes, including court-mandated battering intervention programs? 2. What are the strengths and barriers of the legal system specific to addressing DV perpetration? 3. What are the unmet needs of the stakeholders that are important to consider in improving the response to DV perpetration? Seven themes and related sub-themes emerged. Each section ends with a summary and achievable recommendations. The findings are summarized into the following broad takeaway points: 1. Some important issues that the stakeholders in Alaska have continuously identified over the past decade have not been addressed. We compared the findings from this report to results from prior reports. Problems identified by stakeholders dating back to 2011 (and dating back further) persist today. 2. Stakeholders have varied perceptions and beliefs about those who are impacted by DV. Such variations contribute to differences in stakeholder descriptions of how DV should be addressed. 3. Stakeholders are not requesting softened justice or a reduction in DV criminality but a system that is responsive to how DV is occurring in their local context. Stakeholders emphasized the need to provide a variety of options to hold DV offenders accountable in ways that align with DV typology, co-occurring risk factors, and victim needs. 4. It is unclear whether certain issues are caused by knowledge gaps or service gaps. If knowledge gaps are causing certain issues, information should be disseminated, and confusion should be dispelled. If service gaps are causing the issues, services should be made available. 5. The state lacks a unified ideology that guides the overall response to DV crimes. Each state entity may have a strong sense of purpose, but their DV-related operations are disparate as they are not guided by a state-defined goal. Such goals would help inform how DV crimes should be addressed, how those impacted by DV should be treated by the stakeholders, and how DV dynamics should be understood. A unified ideology would subsequently specify what a successful outcome means to Alaska and the measures that should be utilized for evaluating success and efficacy.