Shortly after taking office in 2014, District Attorney Hoovler established the Misdemeanors Matter Domestic Violence Program, to ensure that misdemeanor domestic violence cases are handled with the special attention and expertise that those serious cases deserve. In the past, the program has received state grant funding arranged by State Senator William Larkin, as well as a federal grant through the Violence Against Women Act Formula Grant Program. Those grants have partially funded the assistant district attorneys responsible for work under the program, including a senior assistant district attorney who administers the program, and an additional assistant district attorney who handles the day-to-day caseload under the program. The program places special emphasis on prosecuting cases without the victims’ testimony, a strategy known as “evidence-based prosecution.”
The Misdemeanors Matter Program has handled hundreds of domestic violence cases. In addition, the District Attorney’s Office has continued to further enhance domestic violence offender accountability by mandating that defendants attend and successfully complete the program of Domestic Violence Classes for Men. That program consists of either 26 or 52 weeks of classes that provide offenders with an opportunity to learn about the harmfulness of behaviors that they have perpetrated against their partners. To date, more than a hundred defendants have been mandated to attend Domestic Violence Classes for Men as part of the disposition of their criminal cases.
Going forward, District Attorney Hoovler plans to take his office’s domestic violence enforcement efforts to the next level. The District Attorney will soon be launching an Intimate Partner Violence Initiative, using the principles of focused deterrence pioneered by the National Network for Safe Communities, a program of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. Focused deterrence identifies the offenders most likely to engage in domestic violence, targets those offenders for enhanced enforcement efforts, and uses those offenders as examples for other offenders. Using the focused deterrence approach, authorities in other jurisdictions around the country have reduced the prevalence of domestic violence. High Point, North Carolina, for example, has reduced its incidence of domestic violence re-offense to approximately one-third the national average.