By: Jenny Ingles
I am a firm believer in the idea that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel, or as my beautiful, southern grandmother would say, “Ginny Lynn, don’t go buildn’ a new barn when the other one just needs a cota’ (coat of) paint.” So with that in mind, I was pursuing some of our old marketing collateral in search of material that I could use. While doing so, I ran across this gem of an article by Stanley Czech, a former instructor (and brilliant man). We had just developed and released our Lethality Indicator in an effort to add crucial information about a defendant’s potential to commit homicide. This little walk down memory lane reminds me how far we’ve come and where we’re going. It reaffirms to me that we’re in this to do it right, to change lives and to save lives. While this was an informational update in a 2009 newsletter (do you remember those things?), it still holds true and highlights our commitment to quality. So here it is, un-edited, for your reading pleasure.
Domestic Violence Lethality Indicator (By: Stanley Czech)
Approximately 4,500 women are the victims of Domestic Homicide each year. That’s about 12 murders per day. Understanding ways to prevent Domestic Homicide is critical in any competent Domestic Violence Program. Along with teaching non-violent, non-threatening and non-controlling behaviors to men convicted of Domestic Violence, there are other tools available to facilitators that help determine a person’s potential for committing Domestic Homicide. One of those tools is a Lethality Indicator.
A person’s lethality risk can be determined by a highly trained and licensed facilitator. The facilitator looks at the defendant’s current and past behaviors in an effort to understand their lethality risk. Behaviors such as violence, hostage taking, access to weapons and obsessing over a partner are considered. The person’s feelings and emotional state are also taken into account.
Feelings of depression and fantasies of suicide and homicide give critical insight into a person’s potential risk to commit Domestic Homicide. In addition to these, there are many other factors that the facilitator uses to gauge a defendant’s homicide potential.
While interviewing a defendant is the most direct way of understanding his potential to murder, the results of the interview can be skewed by deception and manipulation. It is, therefore, essential for the facilitator to have access to police reports and victim statements. Other tools, such as, previous psychological assessments and mental health records can also help to determine a defendant’s lethality potential.
In an effort to provide courts with the highest quality services available, ABR has recently added a Lethality Indicator to both the Domestic Abuse Assessment (included in all Domestic Violence Programs or available as a stand-alone assessment) and Progress Updates for all Domestic Violence offenders.
If you would like any additional information regarding our Domestic Violence Programs or Assessment, contact Jenny at (248) 426-2200.