Domestic violence prevention could soon shift its focus from punishing offenders to reforming those who commit the abuse.

" /> Anti-Domestic Violence Advocates Hope to Crack Down on Offenders | News | Mississippi Public Broadcasting
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Anti-Domestic Violence Advocates Hope to Crack Down on Offenders

By Daniel Cherry | Published 12 Dec 2011 06:22pm | comments
Judge Steven Nixon speaks before receiving the Angel Award

Anti-domestic violence advocates are getting tough on those who commit abuse. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how officials are using one Mississippi city's approach as an example of how to reform offenders.

The Center for Violence Prevention gave their annual Angel Award to the Clinton Municipal Court yesterday for their efforts in assisting victims while still prosecuting and rehabilitating offenders. Judge Steven Nixon says part of their success comes from not dropping domestic violence cases, even if victims ask them to.

"We approach it from the standpoint of, 'No a charge was filed. Something happened, and we can't just pretend that it didn't.' That's not going to do anything to address what happened. And also I think the reasons why victims will say that are different."

Nixon says many times victims will be pressured or threatened into dropping charges. The court is just one using a system called the Batterer's Intervention Program in which offenders must attend rehabilitation to avoid further jail time. Sandy Middleton, the Executive Director of the Center for Violence Prevention, says that's the key to solving the root of the problem.

"Domestic violence is cyclical. If you can engage with the offender and change the offender's behavior then you're starting to make a difference. You're starting to change the cycle and break the cycle."

About 73% of boys who witness domestic violence in their home grow up to commit violence themselves. Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood says the program's successes make it a candidate for use across the state.

"I came out here to Clinton to see what they're doing in hopes we can use it as a model. This year we intend to introduce legislation to at least get a pilot project started where they have this offender training."

Less than one percent of offenders completing the Batterer's Intervention Program continue to commit domestic violence.

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Judge Steven Nixon speaks before receiving the Angel Award


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