Implementation in Johnson County

Phase 4 of the pilot: Training facility staff

Phase 4 of the pilot: Training facility staff

In the summer of 2013, Vera coordinated a sexual assault/PREA training for DOC staff that was delivered by a national expert on sexual assault response in the community and in corrections. Prior to developing the training, the expert learned about Johnson County and the DOC’s strengths and challenges by accompanying Vera on two early site visits to tour the facilities. She met with DOC leaders and other community representatives from MOCSA and the SART and presented at the stakeholder meeting. The expert developed the curriculum in consultation with Vera, the DOC, and OVC’s Training and Technical Assistance Center.[1] ARC and JDC supervisors and front-line staff attended separate trainings to build their knowledge about the following:

  • the basics of sexual assault and of sexual assault in correctional settings;
  • victims’ psychological and behavioral reactions to sexual assault and the care and services they typically need;
  • staff responsibilities when a disclosure is made and how to react in a manner that communicates an understanding of trauma and its impact on victims;
  • internal and external reporting methods for residents and barriers to victims reporting; and
  • risks of victimization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, queer, and intersex individuals. (See Appendix 9, “Excerpted SARTCP Training Agenda.”)

[1] See http://www.ovcttac.gov for more information on OVC’s Training and Technical Assistance Center (OVC TTAC) and opportunities for assistance. You can also contact OVC TTAC or the PREA Resource Center (www.prearesourcecenter.org) for help identifying potential trainers.

In early 2014, after finalizing the policies, the DOC trained ARC and JDC shift supervisors about them. DOC administrators conducted the training to encourage staff buy-in and demonstrate the importance of the issue. After this training, shift supervisors trained their respective staffs on the response policy, using the flowcharts and pocket checklists developed during the course of the SARTCP. (See Appendix 7 for the project flowcharts.) The flowcharts were used to map the processes triggered by a disclosure or discovery of sexual assault; the pocket checklists were distributed to line staff so that they could easily reference a short list of concrete actions to take. According to the facility policy, staff will receive a refresher training every year to ensure that they are up to date on any revisions and continue to build related knowledge and skills.

Regularly scheduled SART meetings provided the opportunity for the DOC to share the new facility policies with other SART agencies. DOC staff encouraged the SART to incorporate into its protocol details for ARC or JDC that deviated from standard SART response, and to focus periodically on corrections-related topics at its regular meetings.

INVOLVING AGENCY STAFF IN TRAINING

Though staff largely responded well to the first PREA training, which was delivered by an outside consultant, they seemed more engaged and receptive to the material during the second training, which the ARC and JDC directors led. Whenever possible, Vera recommends that agencies work in collaboration with consultants or take ownership of trainings altogether. When agency or facility leaders present material (or do so in collaboration with leaders), staff members tend to take it more seriously and understand more easily how the material connects to their day-to-day responsibilities at the facility.

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