A planning tool

Phase 4: Training facility staff

Phase 4: Training facility staff

The last phase of the process involves the following:

  • training facility staff to implement the new or revised response policy; and
  • conducting an ongoing dialogue with the SART to ensure readiness to respond to any sexual assault of residents.


  • Build staff knowledge about the issue of sexual assault in correctional settings.
  • Increase staff understanding about using a SART approach to respond to a sexual assault.
  • Prepare staff to respond per the policy to reports, disclosures, or discovery of sexual assault of residents.
  • Prepare SART members to coordinate with facility staff to respond to disclosures of sexual assault of residents, per facility policy.
  • Provide ongoing forums for facility leaders and staff to talk with SART members so that they can overcome any obstacles in responding to sexual assault of residents.


deliver training related to the response policy
  • Identify a small committee of facility staff who can assist with planning the training. Ask a victim advocate from the rape crisis center to act in a consulting role to help ensure that the training approach is victim-centered. Advocates can also help describe the services they offer and may be more comfortable speaking about the content than is true of most corrections staff, who are probably less familiar with the issues and dynamics related to sexual assault.
  • Identify the training topics to cover related to a response to sexual assault. Some possible topics regarding general response include the following:
    • dynamics of sexual assault victimization;
    • unique needs of victims in community confinement or juvenile detention;
    • issues facing specific populations (such as youth, females, LGBTQI, Deaf people, or people with disabilities);
    • applicable laws and regulations related to sexual assault, sexual assault in corrections, mandatory reporting, and requirements for reporting to oversight agencies; and
    • basic elements of response: addressing victims’ needs, providing victims information on the facility’s response, maintaining victim safety, reducing trauma, and supporting victims’ participation in the investigative process.
  • Some training topics regarding the facility-specific response include the following:
    • elements of the facility’s sexual assault response policy;
    • roles and functions of various facility staff members when there is a report, disclosure, or discovery of sexual assault; and [1]
    • specific steps and procedures related to coordination between facility staff and community responders, such as the following:
      • roles and services of the rape crisis center;
      • confidentiality issues;
      • roles and services of the forensic examiner and/or hospital, including an explanation of the sexual assault medical forensic examination; and
      • procedures for investigation.
  • Identify which staff, contractors, and volunteers to train.
  • Decide on the format of the training program.
  • Identify presenters. Consider using a mix of on-site trainers, which could include advocates from the rape crisis center, facility managers, and upper-level staff; training webinars; and other distance-learning avenues.[2] Using managers and upper-level staff to conduct at least some of the initial training may help to encourage staff buy-in. They can signal to other staff that the facility takes the issue seriously by acting as presenters; they also have the credibility and knowledge to connect the material to the daily lives of their staff.
  • Develop training agendas and handouts. (See the “Excerpted SARTCP Training Agenda” in Appendix 9 and flowcharts in Appendix 7 and Appendix 8.)
  • Consider teaching methods. Be sure to incorporate a sufficient number of activities that allow staff to ask questions and apply what they have learned during the training. Role plays are particularly helpful, because they give participants a chance to rehearse their response to different scenarios. Provide participants with visual aids and handouts (such as response flowcharts and checklists) to help them implement the response policy properly.
  • Be aware that training might be difficult for some staff. If staff tell their supervisors in advance that this training might be difficult for them due to their own victimization or some other personal reason, it is appropriate for trainers to offer them alternative methods for participating in parts of the training (for example, completing exercises on paper instead of participating in role-plays). Facility leaders should also make victim advocates or other support services available to staff following the training, in case the need arises.
  • Decide how to evaluate training sessions. See the example “Training Feedback Form” in Appendix 4 as well as OVC’s Guide to Performance Measurement and Program Evaluation.
plan continuing training
  • After the initial training programs, determine how the facility will aid staff in continuing to build knowledge and skills for responding to sexual assault of residents. If continuing education on sexual assault is not part of facility policy, devise an annual plan to ensure sufficient continuing education for staff on this topic. Also explore opportunities available through other local, state, and national resources.
facilitate ongoing dialogue with the sart
  • Inform SART members of the facility’s policy and engage in ongoing dialogue to ensure a coordinated response to any incident of sexual assault at a facility. If the SART has a regular meeting schedule, the facility’s SART representatives could simply present policy details to SART members then and take their questions and comments. It might be useful to review a case study to illustrate the coordination procedures with the SART.
  • Encourage the SART to incorporate into its protocol any specific parts of the facility policy that deviate from standard community response.
  • Devise a plan to facilitate ongoing multiagency dialogue. The goals are maintaining partnerships, continuing to communicate about individual cases, and building more knowledge and skills for responding to sexual assault of facility residents. Some suggestions for ongoing discussion topics with SART agencies include the following:
    • issues facing specific facility populations (such as LGBTQI residents, youth, Deaf residents, and residents with disabilities);
    • clarification of criminal investigations versus internal investigations;
    • facility security clearance for service providers;
    • For community confinement facilities: Discuss how policies can affect residents’ interaction with SART agencies (for example, if residents’ conditions of release require them to inform the facility of their whereabouts and secure permission from the facility before meeting a provider off-site); and financial responsibilities of the facility, jurisdiction, and residents for medical care associated with the sexual assault and the sexual-assault medical forensic examination; and
    • For juvenile detention facilities: Cover the procedures to maintain safety and victim comfort at the exam site (for example, why and when a security presence is necessary; where security officers should stand to minimize intrusiveness; safeguarding medical instruments; and arranging the exam room and waiting area—issues if victims are restrained) and for communicating with parents and guardians.
  • If the SART has a regular meeting schedule, see if the meeting time can be used periodically to focus on corrections-related topics. There may be successes or problems in individual cases that naturally spark SART discussion. If the SART does case reviews, its members could examine the response in cases from the facility. Representatives from the facility could also discuss and seek feedback about any trends and issues identified during sexual abuse incident reviews that have implications for the SART. SART members could also role-play how they would respond in hypothetical cases involving residents of the facility and troubleshoot issues, challenges, and potential solutions.

[1] See Appendix D, “Possible Roles of Core Responders,” in the Corrections SAFE Guide for more information on the differences among various facility and community responders.

[2] Facility leaders and staff might find it helpful to consult the PREA Resource Center’s website (www.prearesourcecenter.org) for upcoming and archived webinars and training curricula. The PREA Resource Center and the National Institute of Corrections (http://nicic.gov) also have resources for working with incarcerated LGBTQI individuals.

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