NEW JERSEY — Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin and the Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ) announced Wednesday that the Office of the Attorney General, the Division of Criminal Justice, and the county prosecutors will participate in the multistate Preventing and Assessing Intimate Partner Homicide Risk (PAIR) Study conducted by a research team from Arizona State University, John Hopkins School of Nursing, and the University of Pennsylvania.
The PAIR Study seeks to understand the risk factors for intimate partner homicide (IPH) and how access to, and ownership of, firearms combined with behaviors affect the risk of IPH and IPH-related suicide. The study will examine data from New Jersey, Arizona, Maryland, Missouri, Oregon, and Texas.
New Jersey has an average of 29 IPHs per year, and a rate of 0.42 IPH per 100,000 adults, which the researchers identify as one of the lowest IPH rates in the nation. The low rates in New Jersey show it is already implementing effective prevention and intervention policies with regard to domestic violence. New Jersey’s goal is to bring those rates as close to zero as possible.
DCJ is currently coordinating the participation and engagement between the county prosecutors’ offices and the research team so that the researchers may review police, medical examiner, and domestic violence histories for instances of IPH and IPH-related suicide from 2016 to 2020.
The researchers will use this data, as well as information obtained from interviews with loved ones of IPH victims who opt to voluntarily participate in the study, and compare the histories of IPH victims to those of a random sample of individuals who experienced non-fatal intimate partner violence in the past two years.
The results of this study can help New Jersey and other states make data-informed policy and resource allocation decisions to ensure that we employ the most effective strategies to prevent IPH.
“Domestic violence impacts every community and when it escalates to homicide it’s impact is even more devastating,” Platkin said. “While New Jersey’s successful efforts have resulted in lower rates of these tragedies, these complicated and heartbreaking crimes can be prevented by using available data to identify risk factors of future homicide. Safe homes and families are the foundation of a safe community. Our participation in this study, with the help of our county prosecutors and national experts, can help New Jersey identify additional tools to stop future acts of violence and intimate partner homicide.”
The study will also review the effectiveness of the use of the Ontario Domestic Assault Risk Assessment (ODARA). The ODARA is a risk assessment tool police officers in New Jersey complete for domestic violence incidents. If the score is high enough, law enforcement may presume that charges should be placed on a warrant instead of a summons. If the score reaches an even higher level, there is a presumption that prosecutors will move to detain the defendant pending resolution of the case.
“I am proud that New Jersey is an example of the positive effects successful domestic violence intervention and prevention programs can have for individuals at risk of committing or succumbing to intimate partner homicide,” said Director Pearl Minato of the Division of Criminal Justice. “At the same time, we recognize that there is always more work to be done, and this collaboration is a step in the right direction.”
As many victims of domestic violence never engage in the criminal justice system, New Jersey’s success in preventing IPH is also due to the work of New Jersey’s domestic violence organizations, who are critical partners to law enforcement.
“New Jersey’s domestic violence prevention and intervention infrastructure is strengthened by the work of our colleagues at local domestic violence organizations throughout the State,” said Patricia Teffenhart, Executive Director of the Division of Violence Intervention and Victim Assistance. “The services provided by these organizations are critical for not just the reduction of highly lethal situations, but also for supporting survivors and their loved ones along a journey of healing.”
“New Jersey’s participation in this study will lead to a better understanding of the factors that contribute to intimate partner homicide, allowing us to develop data-informed policies and practices to help reduce intimate partner homicide,” said Pamela Jacobs, Executive Director for the New Jersey Coalition to End Domestic Violence. “We look forward to collaborating with the Office of the Attorney General to reduce the devastating impact of domestic violence and improve safety for victims and families in New Jersey.”
The study, which is funded by Everytown for Gun Safety and the National Science Foundation, will include IPH cases in Arizona, Maryland, Missouri, Oregon, Texas, and New Jersey, which will strengthen the statistical significance of the findings and allow a comparison between various laws and policies used in the participating states.