Tuesday, April 08, 2008

NY Pioneers Tougher Approach to Batterers

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.

Read it here

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