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Journal Article


C'de Baca J, Lapham SC, Paine S, Skipper BJ. Alcohol Clin. Exp. Res. 2000; 24(9): 1420-1426.


Behavioral Health Research Center of the Southwest, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87109, USA.


(Copyright © 2000, John Wiley and Sons)






BACKGROUND: Victim Impact Panels (VIPs) have been implemented widely in the United States by judges as a deterrent to drinking and driving, but there is little evidence of their utility in preventing recidivism. OBJECTIVES: The objectives of this study were to examine judges' referral patterns to the VIPs among a multiethnic population of convicted first-time driving while impaired (DWI) offenders and to compare 5-year recidivism rates of those mandated and not mandated to attend the VIP. METHODS: Study participants included 5,238 convicted first-time DWI offenders who were referred to a screening program in Bernalillo County, New Mexico, and who completed a personal interview with a master's-level counselor between April 1989 and October 1995. Logistic regression analysis was used to evaluate judges' preferences in mandating offenders to attend a VIP. The percent of subjects reoffending in the 5 years following their referral for screening was calculated by standard life-table analyses. Cox proportional hazards analysis was used to test the effects of known independent predictors for recidivism. Separate models were developed for the entire population, non-Hispanic offenders, and Hispanic/Mexican national subgroups. RESULTS: Female judges who regularly adjudicated DWI offenders were more likely to refer offenders to a VIP. Judges were less likely to refer men and offenders with less than 12 years of education and an unknown arrest blood alcohol concentration (BAC), and of Hispanic/Mexican national or other race/ ethnicity. Judges were more likely to refer unmarried offenders to a VIP. After controlling for multiple risk factors, referral to VIP was not a strong predictor of recidivism in Hispanic and non-Hispanic ethnic groups, with 95% confidence limits ranging from 0.8 to 1.0, compared to those not referred. CONCLUSIONS: Female judges were more likely than male judges to refer offenders to a VIP, and referral patterns varied by offender characteristics. The VIP referral did not increase rearrest rates but lowered them marginally to not at all. This study should be followed up with a randomized design to control for referral patterns and to further define the impact of mandating offenders to the VIP.


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