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Andrew Klein Addresses Leaders Within Connecticut’s Criminal Justice System

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On October 12th and 13th, 2011, the DVCC was pleased to host Andrew Klein, Ph.D., a Senior Researcher with Advocates for Human Potential, for a symposium entitled, “Responding to Domestic Violence in the 21st Century.”  As a nationally recognized statistician and expert on the criminal justice system’s response to crimes of domestic violence, Dr. Klein presented his research and findings on domestic violence to a wide variety of individuals responsible for advancing the response of Connecticut’s Criminal Justice System to domestic violence.


At a forum held at the University of Connecticut School of Law in Hartford, Dr. Klein addressed such distinguished guests as Judge Robert Devlin, the Chief Court Administrator of Connecticut’s Criminal Division; Judge Lynda Munro, the Chief Court Administrator of Connecticut’s Family Division; Representative Gerald Fox III, the Chair of Connecticut’s House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee; Representative Mae Flexer, the Chair of the Speaker’s Task Force on Domestic Violence; Undersecretary Michael Lawlor, of the Criminal Justice Policy Advisory Commission; Deborah Fuller, Director of the Connecticut Judicial Branch’s External Affairs Division; Michelle Cruz, from the Office of the Victim Advocate; Chief State’s Attorney Kevin Kane; Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Kevin Dunn; Barry Armata, the Chair of the Connecticut Bar Association’s Family Division; and Karen Jarmoc, Interim Executive Director of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence.


Klein presented data on 176,488 police actions across 19 states which revealed that only 1.9% of all Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) incidents reported to police resulted in a dual arrest, representing 3.8% of all IPV arrests. In Connecticut, the average dual arrest rate in those same IPV cases is approximately 16.5%. Klein attributed Connecticut’s higher than average dual arrest rate to the State’s mandatory arrest law and suggested that to bring down the high rate of dual arrests, Connecticut should consider implementing a predominant aggressor policy, under which dual arrests would be formally discouraged and law enforcement officials would utilize select factors to assist them with the determination of which party is the true abuser. “The most comprehensive of national studies on this issue,” says Klein, “determined that predominant aggressor policies reduced statewide dual arrest rates anywhere from 2-9%.”


Klein further highlighted research that demonstrates a prior arrest for any criminal offense is one of the most powerful re-abuse predictors, regardless of whether that prior arrest is for domestic violence. According to Klein, an individual who is arrested for domestic violence and has been previously arrested for any criminal offense is seven times more likely to be rearrested for a subsequent domestic violence offense than an individual with no prior arrest history. Attendees of the forum were asked to then consider how this research impacts a review of Connecticut’s domestic violence laws. Under current Connecticut law, any defendant who has not previously been convicted of a family violence crime, remains eligible for the Family Violence Education Program (FVEP). If the FVEP application is granted, the defendant is entitled to have all family violence charges dismissed after attending nine group classes. Klein’s research supports the longstanding position of the DVCC that the FVEP statute must be changed to make it a true first time offender program.

Klein also addressed many of the DVCC’s local partners at a second forum held at the DVCC’s Stamford Offices. In attendance where representatives from the Darien, Stamford, New Canaan, Norwalk and Westport Police Departments, Stamford’s Office of Adult Probation, the Norwalk State’s Attorneys’ Office, Family Services Counselors from the Court Support Services Family Services Division, and our local batterer service provider – Family Re-Entry. The DVCC was thrilled that so many of our community partners joined us as we explored how Andy’s research can impact our own local responses.

 The DVCC would like to thank Andy Klein and all of our attendees. We hope that these events will serve as a springboard for a continued examination of how current national research can impact how Connecticut responds to domestic violence, and we look forward to working with our partners locally and across the State as we all strive to make Connecticut safer for families.