Kane County hopeful about domestic violence recidivism study

Posted6/5/2015 1:00 AM

Fresh off a study that showed only an 8 percent recidivism rate for Kane County pretrial felony diversion programs, officials want to measure the county's domestic violence diversion program's recidivism rate.

Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon doesn't believe the domestic violence recidivism rate will be as low as 8 percent but he and others believe it will be relatively low.


"We are changing behavior. Counseling does work," McMahon said. "I think we'll have a higher reoffending rate in the domestic violence area. I hope we don't. That's a phenomenal outcome -- 8 percent (reoffend after three years). I think (domestic violence recidivism) will be a little higher but that doesn't mean domestic violence diversion isn't successful."

Earlier this year, McMahon's office and Aurora University announced the results of a study of the county's pretrial diversion program for nonviolent, first-time felony offenders.

The county also offers a diversion program for first-time domestic violence offenders. Treatment options vary, but a standard requirement is each person attends a two-hour counseling session once a week for 26 weeks.

People in the felony diversion program often have made a poor decision or had a lapse in judgment or impulse control, officials said.

But many factors contribute to domestic violence, such as it being a learned, repeated behavior along with anger management and substance abuse issues.

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Plus, the victim may have been abused many times before an arrest was made.

"The systems that contribute to domestic violence may take longer to break down through counseling," McMahon said. "It can work, but it's not just one thing you get counseling on."

Maureen Manning-Rosenfeld, a counselor and director of client services at the Elgin-based Community Crisis Center, said she is eager for a recidivism study on Kane's domestic violence program.

From her 33 years as a counselor she knows, anecdotally, the treatment works but wants to see it quantified.

"(Recidivism) is a mystery. We'd love to have a study taken to find that out," she said.

Rosenfeld said because of the narrow scope of people accepted in Kane's domestic violence diversion program, she believes they will be highly motivated to complete the program and have their record wiped clean.


She said she also is curious to see how the recidivism rates compare to domestic violence defendants who go through the traditional court system.

Rosenfeld predicted the domestic violence recidivism will be "extremely low," perhaps between 5 and 15 percent.

"As a counselor, you hope your work makes a difference and I believe we are but it would be nice to see the research," Rosenfeld said.

McMahon couldn't pinpoint when the study would be conducted but said it was not likely to occur this year.

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