Coordinated Court to oversee Oklahoma County felony domestic violence cases
Over the years, we’ve realized a gap in services with offender accountability, and the reality is: you cannot keep survivors and their children safe if you don’t also coordinate with offender programming. As such, Palomar recently partnered with the Oklahoma County District Courts, and in February 2020, Oklahoma County implemented a pilot program, the Coordinated Domestic Violence Review Docket. The Domestic Violence Coordinated Court will oversee all Oklahoma County felony domestic violence cases post-sentencing on a monthly basis. This coordinated monthly review will greatly improve domestic violence offender accountability, compliance and victim safety.
Prior to the Coordinated Domestic Violence Review, offenders were being seen quarterly by 1 of 9 different District Judges. In an effort to reduce recidivism and streamline cases to make them more efficient and consistent, the Courts have created the monthly Domestic Violence Docket and assigned one Judge to oversee the docket.
Coordinated Courts is an evidence-based model from the Center for Courts and Innovation. Research indicates that ongoing judicial monitoring may be the most effective technique to reduce domestic violence recidivism. Monitoring ensures that repeat offenses will not be tolerated and ensures that the full weight of the judge’s authority is directed at stopping the violence. With the Coordinated Courts, Oklahoma County hopes to:
- Encourage informed judicial decision-making based on comprehensive and current information;
- Ensure a consistent criminal justice system response to domestic violence by having a single presiding judge;
- Improve victim safety by front loading services and increasing communication with other courts;
- Increase offender accountability by ensuring ongoing monitoring of compliance;
- Increase offender access to resources and support services to reduce recidivism;
- Improve the community’s response to domestic violence by linking the court with criminal justice system stakeholders such as probation, the district attorney’s office, the defense bar, community-based social services, and domestic violence advocacy groups.
Our first docket was on February 18th, and it was clear that the majority of offenders could not provide proof of attending a Batterers Intervention Program (BIP) as ordered by the Court. Out of 26 offenders, only eight were enrolled and attending BIP classes. That’s only 30% compliance on a court order! Three offenders were not able to provide information of where they were attending or were waiting for their assessments. The remainder of the offenders had not contacted or attempted to enroll in BIP. Only one of the ten BIP facilitators and a representative from Oklahoma Probation Services who did not have an offender on the docket attended to give their reports to the Court. No actual reports from BIP or probation were provided to the Court to determine how they were doing other than a self report, making it difficult to confirm if they were truly in compliance with the Court orders. We anticipate that as the docket continues, we will see better compliance from offenders, more engagement from service providers, and overall a reduction in recidivism.