Specialization in Criminal Courts: Decision Making, Recidivism, and Re-victimization in Domestic Violence Courts in Tennessee

58 Pages Posted: 28 Oct 2021

See all articles by Aria Golestani

Aria Golestani

University of California, Irvine

Emily Owens

University of California, Irvine

Kerri Raissian

University of Connecticut

Date Written: September 14, 2021

Abstract

Local governments increasingly rely on “specialized” or “problem solving” courts as a way to improve the provision of criminal justice. Using administrative data on misdemeanor DV cases between 2000 and 2006, we exploit the arbitrary courtroom assignment of low-income defendants to evaluate the social impact of specialized domestic violence courts in the General Sessions Court of Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee. We find that, compared to traditional court, defendants assigned to specialized court are less likely to be convicted, but no more likely to be charged with a future crime 1 to 3 years later. This offenderfocused measure of recidivism masks a potentially important increase in safety. Police records suggest that victims in cases assigned to specialized court are less likely to be involved in a future domestic incident. Conditional on future police involvement, these same victims appear to be more willing to cooperate with police and prosecutors.

Keywords: domestic violence, judicial specialization

JEL Classification: K4

Suggested Citation

Golestani, Aria and Owens, Emily and Raissian, Kerri, Specialization in Criminal Courts: Decision Making, Recidivism, and Re-victimization in Domestic Violence Courts in Tennessee (September 14, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3923832 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3923832

Aria Golestani

University of California, Irvine ( email )

P.O. Box 19556
Science Library Serials
Irvine, CA 62697-3125
United States

HOME PAGE: http://ariagolestani.io/

Emily Owens

University of California, Irvine

Kerri Raissian (Contact Author)

University of Connecticut ( email )

10 Prospect St,
HTB, 4th Floor
Hartford, CT 06103
United States

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