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 on a three-year pilot project to help the adult residential and juvenile detention facilities of the Johnson County Department of Corrections (DOC) in Kansas partner with their county sexual assault response team (SART). Detailed steps for creating such partnerships, along with lessons learned from this project, will be documented in a forthcoming national resource guide and interactive web-based tool.

Since 2011, Vera has been working in Johnson County to help the DOC and local SART develop a formal partnership. In addition to facilitating meetings between the DOC, local SART members, and other stakeholders, Vera helped coordinate opportunities for learning and dialogue among the various partners, including correctional facility tours for SART members and a tour for the DOC of the local hospital where facility residents will be sent for sexual assault medical forensic exams. At the same time, Vera worked with staff committees at both the Adult Residential Center and the Juvenile Detention Center to draft internal sexual assault response policies and protocols. The goal was to help the facilities create victim-centered response policies and protocols, train staff, and make sure that DOC policies and protocols incorporated coordination with the SART and other community responders.

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. Detailed steps for community confinement and juvenile detention facilities seeking to partner with local SARTs, along with lessons learned from this project, will be documented in a forthcoming national resource guide and interactive web-based tool.

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 (mostly prisons and jails) 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 Christine Herrman or Ram Subramanian.