New assessment seeks to curb domestic violence

The term “lethality assessment” may be a mouthful, but it could save the life of someone who is experiencing domestic violence.

Due to recently revised policies within law enforcement and the courts, this important evaluation tool is increasingly being used to identify victims at greatest risk of being killed.

Lethality assessments are a type of “danger score” in which police or advocates ask a victim a series of questions to identify high-lethality risk factors and raise awareness in victims regarding their personal level of danger, according to a press release.

The important role these assessments play in saving lives is to be the focus of the 2015 Domestic Violence Awareness Month Press Conference, “Lifesaving Lethality Assessments,” sponsored by the Maricopa Association of Governments.

The press conference is to be 10 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 16, in Mesa. A survivor whose lethality assessment led her to seek help will speak at the event.

Mayor Jim Lane

Mayor Jim Lane

“Lethality assessments offer a real potential to prevent domestic violence fatalities,” stated MAG Chair and Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane, in the release. “It reduces repeat calls to the same household and increases safety for both officers and victims.”

The MAG Regional Domestic Violence Council added the use of lethality assessments to its Misdemeanor Protocol Model as a recommended best practice in 2014.

Under a new Arizona law that took effect in July, judges now have the authority to consider lethality assessments when setting bail and charging domestic violence offenders. In March 2015, the Arizona State Legislature passed House Bill 2467, which expands the factors that a judicial officer must consider when determining a method of release or an amount of bail.

Under the new provisions, the law requires a judicial officer to consider “the results of a risk or lethality assessment in a domestic violence charge presented to the court,” according to the release.

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