Nine graduate from McCulloch County’s first battering prevention, intervention program

Last January, the McCulloch County Commissioners acknowledged the rampant problem of family violence in our county and approved funds for a Battering Prevention and Intervention Program. After much planning and cooperation with Adult Probation here in McCulloch County, I came up with a counselor, a location and a time for the program, and I am proud to say we have completed our first program in Brady. Recently, nine individuals completed the 18-week, 36-hour course. The next program will start in August and will be completed by Christmas. The program can handle up to 15 defendants at a time. Battering Intervention and Prevention Programs can be an effective way of holding family violence offenders accountable for their crimes when used in conjunction with meaningful sanctions from the criminal justice system and the community. Studies have shown batterers can change when they’re held accountable for their behavior. Although family violence is a crime, putting someone in jail may not and is not always an appropriate punishment for the batterer. Court-mandated counseling through a Battering Intervention and Prevention Program has been found to be an effective process in helping the batterer take responsibility for his or her violent behavior and in teaching the batterer how to make necessary changes to stop the abuse. The focus is on rehabilitating the batterer, and in doing so, the program hopes to reduce re-offense rates, thereby preventing another assault or another victim of domestic violence. In doing so, we also aim to re-educate batterers in order to interrupt the cycle of violence that often leads to children becoming violent teens and adults, stop offenders’ abusive behavior and educate them on how to live a non-violent lifestyle and enhance the safety of domestic violence victims. Through the program, family violence offenders are held accountable for their behavior. They must acknowledge to the group and to themselves that they, and they alone, are responsible for their violence and abuse and that using violence is a behavioral choice. Offenders learn about the nature of domestic violence and plan tangible steps to ensure their future nonviolence. Offenders must identify their own abusive behaviors, not just physical and sexual violence, but threatening, coercive and manipulative behaviors as well. They must identify nonviolence, non-abusive behaviors and practice them during the group sessions and they must actively participate in the group and attend all of the sessions. The program here in Brady works together with the county and district judge, myself, and Adult Probation officers to provide thorough offender evaluations focusing on violent and controlling behaviors, refer offenders to appropriate services for substance abuse, mental health or other problems, maintain ongoing face-to-face contact with offenders and provide periodic status reports, including notices of attendance, completion of the class and noncompliance or lack of participation with the program.

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