“I think part of what is so difficult, and has historically been so difficult, is for victims of domestic violence to communicate how afraid they are and how violent this person has been when no one’s watching....I think we have a tendency as a society as a whole to minimize this type of violence when we should be responding with a heightened level of concern...
Risk Assessment (ODARA)
According to the Maine Department of Public Safety, nearly 50% of all Maine homicides each year are the result of domestic violence.
As part of comprehensive homicide reduction plan, in 2012 MCEDV joined with partners including the Maine Commission on Domestic and Sexual Abuse, the Maine Department of Public Safety, the Attorney General’s Office, and the Maine Criminal Justice Academy to pass legislation that mandates the use a of a standardized, evidence-based risk assessment tool for domestic violence offenders post-arrest. [19-A M.R.S. §4012(6)]
The multi-disciplinary workgroup choose the Ontario Domestic Abuse Risk Assessment tool (ODARA) as the instrument that would be used by all Maine law enforcement officers starting on January 1, 2015. The ODARA was developed to be completed by law enforcement, relying on criminal records and the results of a DV investigation, to predict likelihood of re-assault against a current or former domestic or dating partner. It is an evidence-based, validated actuarial tool developed for use in the field by police and does not require any clinical expertise.
The ODARA consists of 13 very specific questions; topics explored include:
- Perpetrator threats
- Offender substance abuse and criminal history
- Victim fears and barriers to support (such as victim’s substance abuse or the presence of children in the home)
- Whether or not the victim was assaulted while pregnant
MCEDV provides training and technical assistance to law enforcement throughout the state of Maine in implementing the ODARA. In addition, training and technical assistance is also available for a range of other staeholders, including prosecutors, advocates, and other criminal justice partners. Please contact Justice System Advocacy Coordinator Samaa Abdurraqib for more information and to learn about the options available for your department.