Original article

Journal of Experimental Criminology

, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp 239-262

First online:

A meta-analytic review of court-mandated batterer intervention programs: Can courts affect abusers’ behavior?

  • Lynette FederAffiliated withDivision of Administration of Justice, Portland State University
  • , David B. WilsonAffiliated withGeorge Mason University Email author 

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Court-mandated batterer intervention programs are being implemented throughout the United States to address the problem of domestic violence. Prior reviews of research on the effectiveness of these programs have arrived at conflicting conclusions. This study is a systematic review of the extant research on this topic. Experimental and quasi-experimental studies that used matching or statistical controls were included. The results were mixed. The mean effect for official reports of domestic violence from experimental studies showed modest benefit, whereas the mean effect for victim reported outcomes was zero. Quasi-experimental studies using a no-treatment comparison had inconsistent findings indicating an overall small harmful effect. In contract, quasi-experimental studies using a treatment dropout design showed a large, positive mean effect on domestic violence outcomes. We discuss the weakness of the latter design and raise concerns regarding official reports. The findings, we believe, raise doubts about the effectiveness of court-mandated batterer intervention programs.

Key words

batterer intervention domestic violence intimate partner violence meta-analysis recidivism