After 19 years running an educational program in Bangor for men who are abusive to their partners, Kathryn Maietta has seen many changes in how the community responds to incidents of domestic violence.
But one important aspect has not changed: A vast majority of domestic violence offenders convicted in Maine courts are not ordered to attend a batterers’ intervention program like hers as part of their probation.
Instead, most batterers are required to complete psychological counseling and anger management, despite broad consensus by experts and state agencies that these treatments are ineffective on their own for domestic violence offenders.
In 2013, Maine courts sent just 414 offenders to batterers’ intervention as part of their probation, according to the office of victim services at the Maine Department of Corrections. Meanwhile, courts sent 719 domestic violence offenders to counseling and another 218 to anger management. The statistics have remained consistent since 2011, which is when the department began tracking the data.
“I think that batterers’ intervention programs offer a set of skills and a chance to turn someone’s life around,” said Julia Colpitts, executive director of the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence. “It seems to make perfect sense to me that people should be allowed to have that chance.”
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