American Journal of Criminal Justice

, Volume 43, Issue 3, pp 570–590 | Cite as

The Impact of Specialized Domestic Violence Units on Case Processing

  • Wendy C. RegoecziEmail author
  • Dana J. Hubbard


This study involves an evaluation of an innovative approach to the handling of domestic violence (DV) cases in the city of Cleveland, Ohio that includes (1) a DV Project composed of specially trained police detectives, prosecutors and victim advocates for investigating and prosecuting domestic violence cases involving adult female victims who are married to, cohabitating with, or have a child with the defendant; and (2) a Dedicated Domestic Violence Docket that involves two Municipal Court judges hearing all of the domestic violence cases that are handled by the DV Project. We collected data on six months of domestic violence cases occurring in the latter half of 2008 (N = 1388), by linking records from the Cleveland Police Department, the Prosecutor’s Office, and the Municipal Court. We found that very few victims in police districts lacking the DV Project follow up with a prosecutor to pursue the case further, indicting that specialized DV units in police departments can have a significant impact on the number of DV cases that move forward through the criminal justice system. DV Project cases were slightly less likely to result in charges issued by prosecutors (OR = .499) but more likely to result in dismissals (OR = 2.545) and referrals to DV treatment programs (χ2 = 3.88).


Domestic violence Intimate partner violence Specialized units Prosecution Courts 


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Copyright information

© Southern Criminal Justice Association 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Criminology, Anthropology, & SociologyCleveland State UniversityClevelandUSA

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