Between 2011 and 2015, Vera worked 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 are 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 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, were also documented in a national resource guide and interactive web-based tool that offer a practical, streamlined plan and a number of useful resources for local correctional facilities around the country committed to responding to sexual assault in a coordinated and victim-centered way while maintaining facility safety and security.

Why SARTs for Corrections?

A sexual assault response team (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 survivors are treated with dignity and respect.