Has one state discovered a simple way to combat domestic violence?
Tim Stelloh wrote an article in the New Republic on April 20, 2012, entitled Fighting Back. The article focuses on an effective screening and assessment tool for domestic violence. The Lethality Screen has been effective in reducing homicides of victims of domestic violence.
The article focuses on unique efforts in Maryland that have had a significant impact. The article states:
Since 2007, domestic violence homicides in the state have fallen by a stunning 40 percent. What is Maryland doing that other states are not? The answer appears to lie with a former high school nurse, an ex-Washington, D.C., police lieutenant, and their ground-breaking efforts to protect the most vulnerable victims of abuse.
The first three questions concerned the most important predictors of future homicide: Has the abuser used a weapon against you? Has he threatened to kill you? Do you think he might kill you? If the woman answered yes to any of those questions, she “screened in.” If she answered no, but yes to four of the remaining eight questions, again, she was in. Among these were other, less obvious indicators of fatal violence: Has he ever tried to kill himself? Does she have a child that he knows isn’t his?
The officer would then present her with an assessment: Others in your circumstances have been killed; help is available if you want it. If the woman agreed, an officer would dial the local shelter from a police cell phone (to prevent the abuser from finding out about the call) and hand it over.
We found this article of interest not only for its success in minimizing homicide, but also because of its relationship to intake and assessment tools that are critical ending homelessness.
The Lethality Screen has now been adopted by law enforcement agencies in 14 states, from Barre City, Vermont, to Kansas City, Missouri.