KDOC's Batterer Intervention Program: Taking a Stand, Making a Difference
One critical way that KDOC works to reduce future victimization is through the Batterer Intervention Program (BIP), an education-based program that holds offenders accountable for their actions, teaches them pro-social behaviors, and helps them learn to manage their emotions in nonviolent ways.
KDOC’s office of victim services works with parole and correctional staff year-round to facilitate BIP. When asked about these efforts, Audrey Cress, Director of Victim Services stated, “I’m taking a stand because together we can make a difference, and together we are.”
The need for educational and behavioral interventions in domestic violence cases is clear and has been reported for years. A 2005 audit conducted by the Kansas Coalition against Sexual and Domestic Violence (KCSDV) indicated that, left unidentified and untreated, an offender’s tendency toward domestic violence poses a significant risk to public safety once they reenter the community on parole. According to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, thousands of domestic violence incidents happen in Kansas every year, and KDOC’s further review of offender data revealed that roughly half of KDOC’s population had been involved in a domestic disturbance of some kind. Although KDOC parole staff referred offenders to community BIP providers, it became clear that the agency needed to start reaching inmates with the program sooner. By making the program available to inmates still inside the prison facilities, KDOC could help address dangerous behaviors before they reenter the community. So, in 2012, KDOC brought in one full-time and one part-time staff member to begin delivering BIP services.
Since then, KDOC has continued to improve methods for identifying and serving inmates who need the program. In July of 2014, KDOC implemented a process to screen inmates upon entry to prison for a history of domestic violence perpetration. Of the 3,224 offenders screened in the first year, 42% self-reported a history of domestic violence. The results from these screenings indicated a strong need to expand the program. Today, KDOC has five BIP facilitators: three in the community and two delivering facility-based services.
KDOC also made changes to the payment requirements for BIP attendees. Originally, the agency charged community BIP participants a copay to help hold them financially accountable for their behavior, but staff soon discovered that this posed a significant barrier to successful program completion. Offenders participating on limited budgets often could not afford to pay and chose instead to skip scheduled sessions. Since KDOC’s BIP groups target those who are at the highest risk for reoffending, regular attendance is critical for success. Removing the copay helped remove that barrier to program attendance, and staff worked to find other ways of holding individuals accountable.
“KDOC’s Batterer Intervention Program has been tremendously beneficial, both to the individuals we serve directly and to their family, friends, and the communities they call home,” said Southern Parole Regional Director Sally Frey.
When asked about the future of BIP, Cress stated that Kansas has made considerable progress in recent years, and that she hopes the discussions around domestic violence will continue beyond October’s awareness campaign. “I am very proud to be part of KDOC’s efforts against domestic violence, and BIP has seen some great outcomes,” she said. “We will continue moving forward and working to improve program access until every offender in KDOC custody who needs these services receives them.”