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Psychology of Violence


To evaluate the effectiveness of the House of Ruth Maryland’s Gateway Project, a community-informed and oppression-sensitive relationship violence intervention program (RVIP; commonly labeled “batterer intervention”), designed for a predominantly low-income, racial minority population residing in a high-stress urban context. Method: Propensity score matching with data on 744 male program participants (89% Black; 59% unemployed; 76% on probation) was used to compare recidivism rates for those who did, and did not, complete the intervention program. The propensity score matching created comparison groups (n = 216 per group) with very similar distributions on 28 balancing factors. Results: During the year after program enrollment, program completers had significantly lower frequency of re-arrest for all criminal offenses, d = 0.16, p = .018 and marginally lower frequency of violent offenses, d = 0.12, p = .075 than matched non-completers. No treatment effect was identified for partner-abuse-related legal involvements, d = 0.06, p = .365. Secondary analyses controlling for propensity score in the full sample yielded similar results, and analyses of session attendance as a continuous variable found additional evidence of a significant program effect on violent offenses in the matched sample. Conclusions: In contrast to a carefully matched sample of program non-completers, men who completed this 28-session intervention, which adapts the traditional RVIP focus on power and control to address the life context of participants who experience systemic oppression, discrimination, economic distress, and community violence, had lower overall involvement with the criminal justice system.

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