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Criminal Justice


Daniel D. Jones


Domestic violence (DV) continues to be a public health and criminal justice problem. Several criminal justice system changes have been made to combat DV, such as mandatory arrest policies, no-drop prosecution policies, and specialized DV courts. Perspectives on these policies, DV, and the criminal justice system have been obtained from the victims, police officers, and victim advocates. However, perspectives from those within the criminal justice court system are missing. The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to obtain the perspectives of key court personnel in small rural communities regarding the prosecution of DV cases. Narrative policy framework was used to guide the study. Qualitative semistructured interviews were conducted with two judges, four prosecutors, and three court victim advocates involved in the prosecution of DV cases. The data were analyzed by creating codes, categories, and themes. The category of resources included themes of victims, offenders, and the criminal justice system. Themes of community, criminal justice personnel, and victims were included in the category of education. The common issues with resources that participants noted were the lack of access to childcare, lack of housing, lack of supervised visitation centers, and lack of programming for offenders. Additional education and training for law enforcement, victims, offenders, and the community on the dynamics of DV, why victims recant, and why victims continue to stay with their abusers were recommended by participants. Understanding key court personnel’s perspectives may help change or create better DV policies as they are the people within the system that must enforce such policies resulting in positive social change.