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Domestic violence risk assessments and restraining orders

We live in a data-driven society. There are numbers about virtually everything. And that certainly includes reports of domestic violence. There is data available on how frequently domestic violence is reported in New Jersey.

Of course, it takes time to enter and process the data. As a result, the statewide total is not yet available for New Jersey domestic violence cases in 2012. But the total is available for 2011. Overall, the number of police reports of domestic violence offenses was 70,311.

This number was down by 5 percent from 2010. The number of domestic homicides, however, was up in 2011 compared to 2010.

Naturally, statistics like these are grist for the legislative mill. Last week, two New Jersey legislators who support a greater role for domestic violence assessment in restraining order cases pointed to the statistics as evidence for their proposed bill.

The bill would impose a requirement on judges to review the results of domestic violence assessments done by psychologists, social workers or counselors. This review would be required before judges could dissolve a restraining order in certain cases. This would apply to final restraining orders in cases in which there are already two or more restraining orders in place against the defendant.

The assessments would essentially be risk assessments. They would focus on evaluations of the likelihood of the commission of violent or abusive acts in the future. Psychologists do not have a crystal ball about these risks, however, and neither do the others who do such assessments.

Please visit our page on domestic violence.

Source: "9th District Delegates Call for Action on Domestic Violence Assessment Legislation," The Sandpaper, 4-25-13

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