SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — Not long after Greene County Judge Calvin Holden sentenced a man with a history of domestic violence to prison, Holden announced he is creating a program specifically for perpetrators of domestic violence and their victims.
Holden said his domestic violence court will be run similar to other Greene County treatment courts like drug and DWI courts, which are intended to divert offenders from incarceration and lower the recidivism rate.
The Springfield News-Leader reported Holden, who's been a judge in the area since 1996, founded four of the specialty courts in Greene County: DWI, juvenile, drug and intensive supervision drug cases.
With those court programs, offenders are closely monitored by judges and guided into treatment programs. Prior to the court meetings, Holden will meet with probation and parole officers and any other involved service providers to discuss the offender.
Holden said from now on, when someone winds up in his courtroom charged with domestic assault, that person will also be ordered to attend his domestic violence court every two weeks.
Also, anyone who is currently on probation for a domestic violence-related offense and violates probation will be ordered into the program.
Holden said meeting with defendants every two weeks is a way to increase interactions with the judge. With the current model, defendants only appear in court if they violate probation.
"You get very involved in their lives," he said.
Holden said he is not convinced classes and counseling can fix every offender.
"I am choosing to take a more proactive approach," he said. "Having them come in every two weeks won't hurt anything."
Holden said he also plans to use the court to encourage victims of domestic violence and their children to get into counseling, especially when they are choosing to stay with the abuser.
"I don't know that you can just fix the defendant," he said. "It may be that it will take a generation of working with the children."
Holden said his goal is to "figure out how to seal off some of the seams" to prevent offenders from becoming repeat offenders.
Holden said he has wanted to create a domestic violence court for more than five years. In 2015, he shared his vision with Vice News.
The judge plans to retire in three years.
"It takes two or three years to get (treatment courts) up and running and organized," Holden said. "I don't have any real answers, but we can do better than what we are doing."
The announcement was made Friday shortly after Holden sentenced Greg Marvin to 45 years in prison for first-degree assault, first-degree domestic assault and armed criminal action.
Marvin repeatedly assaulted his ex-girlfriend and shot the man she was with on the Bass Pro Shops parking lot in 2016. Marvin was first charged with domestic assault in 2003 for beating up his then-wife.
Just before sentencing Marvin, Holden addressed Marvin's supporters — his parents and his new wife, who Marvin married while in jail — in the courtroom.
"If your family believes you are not the individual who did this, then they were ignoring the evidence in this case," he said, adding that if someone had encouraged Marvin to get into counseling back in 2003, then perhaps the incident on the Bass Pro Shops parking lot could have been prevented.