Sexual Assault Response Teams in Corrections Project

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The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) is working with the Vera Institute of Justice to develop a sexual assault response team (SART)—widely considered a best practice in the community—for the adult residential and juvenile detention facilities of the Johnson County Department of Corrections (DOC) in Kansas.

In March 2012, Vera staff visited the Johnson County DOC facilities to learn more about their current sexual assault policies and procedures. Staff also met with the community SART, community-based sexual assault advocates, sheriff’s office investigators, contract medical and mental health providers, and state-level criminal justice officials to learn about available resources for the Johnson County DOC’s SART efforts. Project staff also facilitated a meeting to initiate collaboration among the Johnson County DOC, community-based sexual assault advocates, and other outside responders. The information gleaned from these activities will be used to develop short- and long-term strategic plans for implementing a SART model for the Johnson County DOC. To measure the success of this project, Vera and OVC have engaged an external researcher to evaluate the SART implementation process in the Johnson County DOC. The lessons learned from this initiative will be used to develop a resource guide for correctional facilities around the country committed to creating SARTs of their own.

Why SARTs for Corrections?
A SART is a multidisciplinary team of health care providers, law enforcement representatives, advocates, and other professionals who coordinate their actions to help ensure that victims of sexual assault are supported and perpetrators held accountable.

SARTs are in wide use in communities but are still relatively uncommon in confinement settings—although a few correctional systems have developed them since the passage of the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003. Implementing SARTs in corrections is an important step towards changing the culture within institutions from one where victims are blamed to one where victims are treated with dignity and respect.

For more information on our SART work, please contact Ram Subramanian.