The Rochester (N.Y.) Domestic Violence (DV) Court Judicial Monitoring program was designed to provide judicial monitoring by the court, which involved frequent court appearances by the domestic violence offender before a judge. The goal was to ensure compliance with program requirements and other court orders, and deter future violence and re-abuse of victims. The court imposed sanctions in cases of noncompliance and rewarded offenders with incentives in cases of compliance.
The program was designed to provide judicial monitoring to domestic violence offenders who had been ordered to participate in a court-mandated program (including batterer programs or substance abuse treatment programs). The judicial monitoring was conducted in addition to the services received by the offenders in the mandated programs.
Protocols were developed to specify:
- The schedule for court appearances under judicial monitoring
- A schedule of sanctions and incentives to be used in response to compliance or noncompliance
- A “script” for judges to follow in their interactions with offenders
Schedule for court appearances: Offenders received a court appearance date for their first postdisposition monitoring for 2 weeks after sentencing. The protocol specified a schedule of appearances every 2 weeks initially. Subsequent dates could be more or less frequent, depending on the compliance of the individual with court orders and program requirements (for example, if the offender was compliant, the appearances could be changed to every 3 weeks; if the offender was noncompliant, the appearances could be changed to weekly).
Sanctions and incentives: Infractions on the part of the offender were linked to sanctions. Sanctions could include verbal admonishments, more frequent court reporting, jail, restarting a program, and electronic monitoring. Conversely, compliance or achievements—such as complying with a court mandate or obtaining a GED or employment—were linked to incentives, such as praise from the judge or a reduction in the frequency of court appearances.
Script for the judges: This component was developed as a framework to guide judges through their interactions with offenders. During appearances, the judge was expected to:
- Review behavioral expectations and consequences of noncompliance
- Verify offender compliance with court orders and program mandates
- Apply incentives and sanctions as determined by the sanction schedule
- Directly interact with the offender
- Set a return-to-court date and explain explicitly reasons for any changes in the monitoring schedule
- Repeat that a protective order was in effect and program rules must be followed
In some judicial monitoring programs, offenders may report to a judge, to a compliance officer, or to a referee. In the Rochester DV Court, all judicial monitoring was provided by judges.
Advocates of judicial monitoring often suggest that reductions in recidivism can be explained by deterrence theory, which predicts that increased surveillance will deter future violence. Some studies suggest that reductions in recidivism should be attributed to offenders’ perceptions of procedural justice—that is, that compliance increases when offenders believe that the procedure, courts, and/or judges are fair.