New Guidelines For Prosecuting Intimate Partner Violence In Smaller Jurisdictions

February 28, 2022

A new report on survivor-centered approaches to  combat intimate partner violence (IPV) in smaller jurisdictions was published today by the Institute for Innovation in Prosecution (IIP). The report is the second in a series from the IIP’s Beyond Big Cities Initiative (BBCI), which seeks to connect prosecutors who serve small, often rural populations and who are committed to a criminal justice system rooted in fairness and equity.

Read the Guide on Intimate Partner Violence

Over ten million Americans experience IPV every year and survivors in small and rural jurisdictions face unique barriers to accessing justice, such as a lack of support services or an increased likelihood of physical isolation. This report highlights the work of BBCI members who have implemented innovative programs to overcome those challenges and reduce IPV in their communities.

“Prosecutors’ offices across the country are struggling to stop intimate partner violence. This report features real examples of successful programs specifically for prosecutors in communities where services and resources may be limited,” said Alissa Marque Heydari, Deputy Director of the IIP. “We hope it inspires prosecutors across the country to reimagine IPV prosecution and leads to a sharp decrease in this form of violence.”

The report includes a step-by-step guide for prosecutors interested in establishing Family Justice Centers, which provide wraparound services to victims of IPV.

The checklist was created following BBCI meetings with the founders of Alliance for Hope International, a family justice center organization, as well as two BBCI members who have family justice centers in their communities.

“Family Justice Centers can be a key resource in providing services to survivors of IPV,” said Prosecuting Attorney and BBCI member Jon Tunheim, who helped start the Family Justice Center in Thurston County, WA in 2011. “This report should help prosecutors in small jurisdictions realize that developing a Family Justice Center is feasible and will be an unparalleled resource for survivors and the community as a whole.”

In addition to innovative programs for survivors, the report recommends new approaches to preventing people convicted of IPV from reoffending.

“IPV is pervasive in rural communities, where many victims are physically isolated and unable to access services,” said Professor of Law Maybell Romero, a member of the BBCI Advisory Board and co-author of the report. “For prosecutors to do their job fairly and effectively, they must prioritize trauma-informed evidence collection as well as treatment for those convicted of IPV.”

The first publication from the Beyond Big Cities Initiative, “Restorative Justice: A Best Practice Guide for Prosecutors in Smaller Jurisdictions,” was released in January.

The Institute for Innovation in Prosecution at John Jay College of Criminal Justice (IIP)

The IIP provides a collaborative national platform that brings together prosecutors, policy experts, and the communities they serve to promote data-driven strategies, cutting-edge scholarship and innovative thinking. The IIP is dedicated to criminal justice that promotes community-centered standards of safety, fairness and dignity.

The Beyond Big Cities Initiative

The Beyond Big Cities Initiative, with the support of Microsoft’s Justice Reform Initiative, seeks to engage jurisdictions with medium and small-sized offices, particularly in rural areas.

The Initiative aims to include and uplift prosecutors in smaller jurisdictions who may lack the resources of big city offices but are not lacking in their commitment to justice and equity.

John Jay College of Criminal Justice

An international leader in educating for justice, John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York is a Hispanic Serving Institution and Minority Serving Institution offering a rich liberal arts and professional studies curriculum to 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 135 nations.

John Jay is home to faculty and research centers at the forefront of advancing criminal and social justice reform. In teaching, scholarship and research, the College engages the theme of justice and explores fundamental human desires for fairness, equality and the rule of law. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @JohnJayCollege.

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