Using the guide

Using the guide

This guide is designed to assist administrators of local community confinement and juvenile detention facilities in collaborating with a community sexual assault response team (SART). A SART is a multidisciplinary interagency team of individuals working together to provide specialized sexual assault services. Partnerships with SARTs can help facilities implement response policies and procedures that address elements of the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) National Standards to Prevent, Detect, and Respond to Prison Rape Under the Prison Rape Elimination Act (the “PREA standards”), including the following:

[1] 28 Code of Federal Regulations § 115.265, and § 115.365: Official Response—Coordinated Response.

[2] 28 C.F.R. § 115.221, and § 115.321: Responsive Planning—Evidence Protocol and Medical Forensic Exams.

[3] Check with your state sexual assault coalition or a local rape crisis center to see if there is a state and/or community immediate-response protocol that incorporates the recommendations of the National Protocol.

[4]28 C.F.R. § 115.253 and § 115.353: Reporting—Resident Access to Outside Support Services.

What the PREA standards define as sexual abuse is typically called sexual assault by community responders, with the exception of noncontact sexual abuse and harassment.[1] This guide mainly uses the term “sexual assault.” Note that legal definitions for sex offenses depend on statutes of the governing jurisdiction(s).

[1] See 28 C.F.R. § 115.6.

SARTs are widely considered a best practice for responding to sexual assault in the community, but correctional agencies—mainly prisons and jails—have only recently begun to make use of SARTs. Through a cooperative agreement, the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), a component of the DOJ within the Office of Justice Programs, funded the pilot Sexual Assault Response Teams in Corrections Project (SARTCP) to gain insight into how local correctional facilities can benefit from partnerships with community SARTs. The Vera Institute of Justice worked in Kansas to help the Johnson County Department of Corrections’ (DOC) Adult Residential Center and Juvenile Detention Center implement this pilot project. As part of the OVC grant program, a team of Kansas-based researchers conducted an external evaluation of the project. The external evaluator and her team helped guide the development of the project by surveying staff, interviewing residents and key stakeholders, and conducting training evaluations. The evaluation activities helped inform training curricula and material development for the facilities. This guide is based on experiences and lessons learned from that project.

The guide is organized into three sections. Section 1 provides background information on PREA and SARTs and discusses some of the benefits to correctional facilities of partnering with community SARTs. Section 2 is a planning tool designed to help administrators of local community confinement and juvenile detention facilities partner with a community SART to incorporate a SART approach into their sexual assault response policy and procedures (henceforth referred to as “policy”). It breaks down the collaborative process into four distinct phases:

  1. gathering information and planning;
  2. working with the community SART;
  3. incorporating a SART approach in facility policies; and
  4. training facility staff

Finally, Section 3 provides an example of how these principles and phases worked in practice, by describing the experience of the Sexual Assault Response Teams in Corrections Project in Johnson County, Kansas. This section includes a discussion of the project’s external evaluation and key accomplishments.

Please note that this guide is not intended to highlight all of the issues and potential challenges involved in implementing a coordinated, victim-centered response to sexual assault in correctional facilities. Instead, it offers a practical, streamlined plan to respond to sexual assault in a coordinated and victim-centered way while maintaining facility safety and security. For more background on related issues and challenges, see the following resources:

Throughout the website, all sources that are mentioned or which directly informed the SARTS in Corrections project are listed under “References and resources.”

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