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In spring 2012, five SPEA students completed a graduate-level capstone project focusing on the subject of domestic violence for Hamilton County, Indiana. The goal of this project was to report the extent of domestic violence in Hamilton County, criminal justice system response, and, finally, to research evidence-based best practices that could better direct response efforts. To determine the extent of domestic violence, data was collected from police dispatchers, Prevail - a local nonprofit organization, and the Hamilton County prosecutor's office. Data was then analyzed to provide Hamilton County officials with statistics showing the number of calls for service, arrest rates, prosecution rates, and court dispositions between January 1, 2009 and January 1, 2010. Key informant interviews were conducted with Hamilton County officials involved in response efforts including police officers, prosecutors, and victim service providers. Best practices interviews were also conducted via phone with those involved in the implementation of successful programs throughout the country which were determined from information gained through the literature review process. Overall recommendations were made such as adopting a zero tolerance policy, requiring police officers to write reports for all domestic violence calls for service, implementing new technology to track indicator crimes, and providing additional, diversified training for not only police officers, but court officials as well. The report begins by providing background information on the project and Hamilton County. This is followed by a detailed methodology outlining the data collection process. Next is a literature review on the problem of domestic violence and re-offense rates along with best practices programs. The report continues with a detailed analysis of primary and secondary data. Finally, recommendations are made for Hamilton County based on all of the information gathered from the aforementioned methodology followed by two key informant interviews.
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