Phase 2 of the pilot: Working with the community SART
At the start of Phase 2, Vera convened a stakeholders meeting to bring together the DOC and SART agencies. This meeting began with an overview of PREA, introduced SART members and DOC staff to each other, and provided a forum to discuss the concept of a SART response to reports of sexual assault in facilities. The meeting offered an important training opportunity in which agency leaders and staff learned about DOC facilities and operations and the DOC staff learned about relevant community resources. To finish, participants discussed how a partnership between the DOC and the SART could be used to facilitate a coordinated victim-centered response when residents in the ARC and JDC report sexual assault.
After the meeting, the DOC sought to become active on the SART and began to develop working relationships with SART member agencies. The SART in Johnson County is larger than most, so the following agencies were identified as particularly critical to the sexual assault response in DOC facilities:
- The Shawnee Mission Medical Center (SMMC) is an area hospital with a well-established sexual assault forensic examiner (SAFE) program, staffed by specially trained and certified sexual assault nurse examiners (SANEs). It has the capacity to perform adult, adolescent, and child sexual-assault medical forensic examinations, so its staff can serve all residents from the ARC and the JDC.
- The Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault (MOCSA) is the rape crisis center for the Kansas City metropolitan area, serving three counties in Kansas and four in Missouri. Among other services, MOCSA operates a 24-hour crisis line, provides advocacy services through all stages of the justice system process (from hospital support through prosecution), and offers short-term crisis intervention, individual counseling, support groups, and other services.
- The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office has investigative authority for reports of criminal activity in DOC facilities.
- The Johnson County District Attorney’s Office is the prosecuting authority for the county. Its Victim Assistance Program coordinates the activities of the county SART.
Partnership-building activities included the following:
- The DOC started participating in SART meetings. A DOC SART representative updated SART members on progress in DOC policy development and training. The JDC also hosted a SART meeting and provided facility tours.
- MOCSA became a regular source of information for the DOC about the community response to sexual assault. MOCSA staff made themselves available to explain the organization’s full complement of services; how DOC residents could access these services; and how its role interconnected with the roles and procedures of other responders. The DOC worked with MOCSA to create a basic memorandum of understanding (MOU) to provide victim services for residents. MOCSA also offered to train DOC staff on sexual-assault victimization issues, and the DOC, the district attorney’s office, and MOCSA planned and implemented a cross-training session.
- The sheriff’s office became the sole investigator of sexual assault at DOC facilities. Before the project, the Olathe Police Department responded to all calls from the JDC and the sheriff’s office responded to all calls from the ARC. Soon after the project started, DOC leaders agreed that it would be more consistent and streamlined to have one law enforcement agency conduct sexual assault investigations at both facilities. Dialogue among the DOC director, the sheriff, and the Olathe police chief led to the decision that the sheriff’s office would respond to all reports of sexual assault of residents in DOC facilities.
- Facility staff toured the Shawnee Mission Medical Center. The coordinator of SMMC’s Forensic Acute Care Treatment (FACT) Program provided an on-site tour and overview to DOC representatives. The FACT Program has a team of qualified, compassionate physicians and nurses who are specially trained to offer medical and/or forensic care to patients reporting recent sexual abuse or assault.) The tour was especially useful in helping ARC and JDC administrators understand the logistics of the sexual-assault medical forensic examination process and served as a reference point during policy development. The DOC also sought the FACT Program staff’s feedback on the facilities’ newly developed sexual assault response policies.
Mixed in with the positive response to the idea of a DOC-SART partnership was, not surprisingly, some wariness on the part of DOC staff and community agencies. Because the DOC facilities had low reporting rates for sexual assault, some facility staff questioned whether the partnership would have much practical use. On the flip side, some SART members wondered if the partnership would lead to a significant increase in victim disclosures and, if so, whether the team would have the capacity to fully serve this population. Fortunately, these concerns dissipated as relationships developed between the correctional facilities and SART agencies—and as representatives of the organizations talked through the logistics of a coordinated response.