How Arizona Prosecutors Implemented a Statewide Domestic Violence Risk Assessment.

Author:Cramer, Amelia
Position:Special Section on Domestic Violence

ARIZONA RECENTLY IMPLEMENTED a statewide domestic violence risk assessment tool for intimate partners that measures the perpetrator's likelihood to commit a severe re-assault within seven months that would result in serious physical injury or death to the victim.

How did Arizona develop and implement this tool, known as the APRAIS (Arizona intimate Partner Risk Assessment Instrument System), which is approved by the Arizona Supreme Court and mandated to be considered by judges when setting bond in DV cases?

Arizona's new APRAIS intimate partner risk assessment tool is the product of two years of work by a multi-disciplinary group of judges, prosecutors, law enforcement officers, victim advocates, defense attorneys, and academics. It combines pioneering risk assessment work by Dr. Jacquelyn Campbell of Johns Hopkins University and her colleagues with updated empirical data, and balances that with legal and logistical considerations. Although the end product is tailor made for Arizona, the development process reads like a playbook for other states.

The challenges Arizona faced in developing this tool are not uncommon to those of other states. Arizona is home to 7 million people in 15 counties. The majority of the counties are rural, and every jurisdiction has multiple law enforcement agencies. As in many jurisdictions across the United States, domestic violence cases are among the most frequent and potentially dangerous calls facing law enforcement. It is not unusual in a city the size of Phoenix for the police to respond to more than 40,000 domestic violence related calls a year.

In 2009, the Phoenix Police Department began looking for ways to approach domestic violence calls more efficiently The agency developed four "Course of Conduct" interview questions to identify whether or not it appeared violence was escalating and the case took the form of more serious or "coercively controlling" violence and abuse.

In seeming cases of intimate terrorism or coercive control, the police tried to approach the cases differently. Intimate terrorism or coercive control is rarely not a one-time event (situational couple violence as opposed to intimate terrorism or coercive control indeed can be, in a significant number of cases, a onetime event!), and these questions encouraged officers and prosecutors to consider violence and abuse outside of the charged instance. Prosecutors from the Maricopa County Attorney's Office and Phoenix used the victims' answers to the Course of Conduct...

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