Phase 1 of the pilot: Gathering information and planning
The overarching goal of the project was to help the DOC implement a SART approach to sexual assaults occurring at the two facilities. At the beginning of the project, Vera staff anticipated three ways that a SART could be implemented at the DOC:
- creating facility-based response teams at both the ARC and the JDC;
- developing a department-wide team for the entire DOC, with members nimble and flexible enough to respond to victims at both facilities; or
- adding DOC representation to the Johnson County community SART.
Phase 1 of the project was devoted to gathering information, assessing the feasibility of these three options, and planning for implementation of the most appropriate SART model for the DOC. Vera acted as the principal investigator, conducting outreach to state and local sexual assault victim advocates, meeting with investigators at the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, identifying and meeting with member agencies of the community SART, meeting with the SART coordinator, touring the DOC facilities, and interviewing key DOC staff and leaders. After gathering and assessing this information, Vera recommended that the DOC create a partnership with the community SART.
This option made the most sense for the DOC for a few reasons. First, like many community confinement and juvenile detention facilities, the ARC and JDC are relatively small, and for this reason, DOC leaders expressed concern that the facilities did not warrant facility-based SARTs. Similarly, a key DOC leader thought a department-wide team might lose motivation or atrophy if there were not enough incidents of sexual assault to keep the team engaged or allow members to exercise the skills they would gain from specialized training. After completing the interviews and site visits, it was clear that the majority of Johnson County stakeholders, including the DOC leaders, favored linking the DOC to the community SART. It was determined that working with the SART would enable the DOC to benefit from the expertise and collaboration that already existed among community members and would also help educate them about the DOC. For the ARC, linking to the existing SART was a particularly logical choice because the ARC is based in the community where residents work and see service providers.