Investigating the Impacts of Institutional and Contextual Factors on Protection Order Decision-Making

  • Durfee, Alesha (PI)

Project: Research project

Grant Details


Investigating the Impacts of Institutional and Contextual Factors on Protection Order Decision-Making Investigating the Impacts of Institutional and Contextual Factors on Protection Order Decision-Making Domestic violence civil protection orders (POs) are used to protect victims by prohibiting contact between a victim and abuser. POs, PO case processing, and access to POs have become increasingly important issues for victims, service providers, and courtsa recent study estimated that most metropolitan courts each process approximately 3,000-4,000 POs every year (Uekert et al, 2006). Most existing research on POs focus on the efficacy of existing orders; less research has been conducted on issues of victim access to POs and PO case processing. The empirical research that does focus on the filing process and issues of access to POs has primarily examined individual-level variables like victim and judicial decision-making. This project identifies and analyzes institutional and contextual factors that influence (1) the decision of victims to file for POs and (2) whether POs are then issued by the courts. As Arizona allows victims to file for POs anywhere in the state (with no residency restrictions), this project also examines whether the waiver of residency requirements impacts patterns of PO filings. Preliminary research indicates that there are statistically significant differences between courts in the population-adjusted rates of PO filings and in the likelihood that a PO will be granted. This mixed-methods project will be conducted in two phases. In phase I, primary data will be collected from PO filings in six municipal courts (n=1,200) and merged with secondary data from Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics, American Community Survey, and state administrative data. In addition, spatial data will be created from the PO filings data to better understand the impact of geography and neighborhood characteristics on patterns of PO filings. In phase II, 80 interviews will be conducted with judges, court clerks, police officers, advocates, and victims in order to better understand the dynamics behind the quantitative results found with the phase I data. Analytic techniques include logistic and multinomial logistic regression, spatial analysis, narrative analysis, and content analysis. This mixed-methods project is a collaborative partnership between Arizona State University (ASU), the Mesa Municipal Court (Arizona), and the National Center for State Courts (NCSC). The strengths of each partner will facilitate the generation of high quality, innovative, policy relevant research on POs with data that is often unavailable to researchers. The PI at ASU has extensive experience conducting research on POs, Mesa Municipal Court is considered a national model for innovative practices, and the NCSC is the premier service provider to state courts nationally and will provide expertise in court policies and procedures nationwide. The project will result in the creation of interim and final reports of findings (with executive summary, PowerPoint presentation, fact sheet, and policy recommendations), a judicial training module, academic presentations, peer-reviewed journal publications, and court performance measures by the NCSC. We anticipate that the development of court performance measures will lead to subsequent projects where these measures can be piloted, tested, and refined with the eventual goal of improving access to POs, increasing the procedural satisfaction of petitioners, and subsequently increasing the safety of domestic violence victims nationwide.
Effective start/end date1/1/1612/31/18


  • DOJ-OJP: National Institute of Justice (NIJ): $369,928.00


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