For Immediate Release - April 12, 2010

Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center And Essex District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett Release 4-Year Report On High Risk Response Team Success

No domestic violence murders and 92 percent of victims remain in their community safe from re-assault

SALEM, Mass. - Essex District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett and the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center, serving nine communities in greater Newburyport, released a four-year report examining the Newburyport High Risk Response Team and its effectiveness preventing domestic violence homicides. There have been no intimate partner murders since the start of the project on April 1, 2005, and, of the 78 cases deemed to be high risk since then, there have only been six known instances of re-offense of another domestic assault.

The High Risk Response Team, composed of Newburyport-area police, probation, prosecutors, hospital personnel, advocates and batterer's intervention, reviews and creates a preventative response for domestic violence victims deemed most at risk of being murdered. The members of the team meet monthly to evaluate cases using a research-based screening tool that identifies the red flags of homicidal risk between intimate partners, such as the victim has been strangled previously, her partner has weapons, or has threatened to kill. The Team then develops a preventative plan that may include additional police surveillance, probation conditions or GPS monitoring.

"Pulling all the partners together to share information is the key to the success of this model. We may come from different perspectives, but we are all concerned with the same issue of keeping families safe, in their home without having to flee to shelter at the same time we hold batterers accountable. It's a model that works - and works well," says Suzanne Dubus, Executive Director of the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center. "The High Risk Response Team is saving lives."

Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett believes the High Risk Response Team is a powerful tool in helping to prevent domestic violence murder. It has also improved law enforcement, changing how investigators approach domestic violence cases, interview witnesses and gather evidence.

"Domestic violence is homicide waiting to happen," says Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett. "The High Risk Team brings professionals together with a common purpose to provide enhanced support and services to those who need it the most, and to inform the court of the most dangerous offenders who need containment, monitoring or conditions placed on them to help victims to live safely within their own community."

Based on the success of the High Risk Response Team model, the JGCC was named as a national model of best practices at the National Summit to End Domestic Violence in November 2009. In the past four years, the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center has trained more than 2,000 criminal justice professionals, including advocates, police officers, and probation personnel in the high risk model. The JGCC has worked with officials to replicate the model in New Bedford, Lynn, Framingham, Greenfield, Fall River, Somerville, Salem, Cambridge, Ayer, Gloucester and Peabody in Massachusetts and has participated in national training conferences in California, Illinois, Florida and Nevada.

Essex District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett

Essex District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett oversees a staff of 175 Assistant District Attorneys, Victim Witness Advocates, Juvenile Justice Coordinators, State Police Investigators and support staff to handle approximately 40,000 criminal cases in the 34 cities and towns of Essex County. The cases range from simple assaults to homicides. While prosecution is his primary function, the District Attorney is a strong proponent of prevention and early intervention to prevent crime. Staff members participate in seven domestic violence roundtables in Lynn, Saugus, Salem, Peabody, Lawrence, Gloucester and a joint one with Wenham, Ipswich, Topsfield and Hamilton and five domestic violence high risk teams in Newburyport, Salem, Peabody, Lynn and Gloucester within the county.

Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center

For more than 25 years, the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center has been helping individuals and families at risk because of domestic violence. What began as the compassionate mission of several volunteer parishioners of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Newburyport in 1982, has grown into a nationally-recognized nonprofit organization serving families from Amesbury, Merrimac, Georgetown, Newbury, Newburyport, Rowley, Salisbury, West Newbury and Groveland. The mission of the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center is to empower community members to live free from fear, intimidation, violence or the threat of abuse by providing support, advocacy and education. For more information, call 978-465-0999 or visit www.jeannegeigercrisiscenter.org.

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