U.S. courts have been sending batterers to rehabilitation programs for decades. As research finds the programs doing little to curb domestic violence, New York state has taken a tougher tack, aimed at enforcing sentences.
Phyllis B. Frank founded a program in 1978 to counter domestic violence through workshops for men. It was the first batterer-intervention program in the state and among the first in the country.
Ten years later, the director of the VCS Community Change Project, located in New City, a suburb about 45 minutes north of New York, finishes off the opening paragraph of a grant application and spins in her chair to face a reporter's question about such programs.
"Batterer programs are a dumping ground," Frank says flatly. "We send men here, and we think we're doing something. I decided at one point the best possible thing I could do would be to close."
But Frank did not shut down the program.
Instead, during the 1990s she redefined its goals--aligning it more with sentencing and court-order enforcement than rehabilitation--and began to develop what would become known as the New York model.
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