According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in every four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. The strongest risk factor of transmitting violent behavior from one generation to the next is witnessing violence between one’s parents or caretakers. Locally, felony domestic violence probationers are three times more likely to fail on probation and be sent to prison.
To address these concerns, the Santa Barbara County Probation Department applied for and has been awarded a three-year $100,000 per year grant to implement the Batterers Enhanced Supervision and Treatment (BEST) Program. Funding was received through the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and will be administered by the California Emergency Management Agency.
The BEST program will enhance the level of intensive supervision for smaller probation caseloads serving violent offenders convicted of domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking offenses. Deputy Probation Officers assigned to BEST caseloads will work with the probationers to collaboratively develop case plans and will provide increased community supervision, thereby enhancing accountability in areas such as treatment program attendance, drug and alcohol testing, the pursuit of educational and/or employment goals, and compliance with meeting financial obligations.
Global Positioning System (GPS) technology will be utilized to supplement community supervision of the highest risk offenders who have shown a propensity/history for violent acts against spouses, cohabitants, family members or those in a dating relationship. Enhanced supervision with the GPS component will enable the creation of exclusion zones to restrict probationer movements from areas that would promote illegal conduct, and better protect the victim in cases of stalking, retaliation, and unauthorized contact, especially when the probationer is initially released from custody; one of the most vulnerable times for a victim.
On October 12, 2010, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors approved acceptance of the BEST grant. During the proceedings, Board Chair Janet Wolf, commended the Probation Department for proactively applying for grants to provide innovative services for Probation clients and, in this case, focusing on the safety of victims of domestic violence in our communities.