A planning tool

Introduction to the guide

Introduction to the guide

This guide will help facility administrators of community confinement and juvenile detention facilities create partnerships with their community sexual assault response team (SART) and incorporate a SART approach in a facility’s sexual assault response policy. This planning tool is based on the lessons learned from OVC’s Sexual Assault Response Teams in Corrections Project (SARTCP), a three-year pilot program implemented by the Vera Institute of Justice in Johnson County, Kansas. Through the SARTCP, Vera helped the Johnson County Department of Corrections (DOC) form a partnership with the county’s sexual assault response team and develop a comprehensive sexual assault response policy.[1] The tool was written to empower facilities and their personnel to accomplish similar goals without the help of a technical assistance provider.

Although the Johnson County DOC’s two facilities—the Adult Residential Center and Juvenile Detention Center—serve different populations and operate at different security levels, the process for creating the partnership with the SART was largely the same. Developing a sexual assault response policy required customization to each setting, as it would for any facility crafting policies to comply with the PREA standards. The phases and tasks outlined in the tool are designed to be applicable to community confinement facilities and juvenile detention facilities. The principles and approach in the tool can also be adapted for use in other confinement settings.

A few notes about the tool:

  • Organization: This guide divides implementation activities into four distinct phases, which are subdivided into objectives and tasks.
  • Coordination responsibilities: For the SARTCP pilot, Vera was the coordinator. For correctional facilities undertaking this effort on their own, the staff responsible for PREA implementation should function in the coordinator role—either as an individual or coordinating committee. The planning tool is written with this coordinator/coordinating committee in mind and uses “coordinator” to denote this responsibility.
  • Time frame: For purposes of planning and allocating resources, it is helpful to have a target time frame for achieving the phases of this work. Consider issues such as available resources, completion dates for facility PREA audits, the facility’s calendar and the SART’s calendar, timing issues (if grant funding is supporting the work), and the process for policy change at the facility. The SARTCP was a three-year process; this guide should help correctional administrators significantly reduce implementation time to approximately 12-18 months.
  • Resources: Many diverse resources are needed to accomplish the tasks in this guide. Some may be easily accessible; others will require more effort to figure out how to leverage them. In addition to resources within the facility and from community agencies, facility staff may wish to access state and national resources.
  • Customization: Administrators are urged to tailor the steps in this tool to meet their facility-specific needs.

[1] Note that rather than incorporating the community SART approach into facility policies, some correctional facilities have formed facility-based SARTs. For more on such an approach, see the webinar Developing Facility-Level Sexual Assault Response Teams (SARTs), presented by JDI and the National PREA Resource Center. See also the upcoming JDI publication No One Left Behind: Building a Victim Services Program for Incarcerated Survivors of Sexual Abuse.

  • Assist facility leaders in gathering and assessing information to inform project planning and devise a plan to partner with the SART and incorporate a SART approach into the facility’s sexual assault response policy.
  • Seek to formalize the collaboration between the facility and the SART.
  • Build partnerships with individual SART agencies to enable the facility to coordinate interventions with them in case the sexual assault of a resident is reported. Address any related coordination issues with relevant advisory or oversight entities or agencies.
  • Oversee the work of incorporating a SART approach into the facility’s sexual assault response policy.
  • Coordinate training for facility staff about the new policy. Make sure a plan is in place for training on topics related to sexual assault response.
  • Attend SART meetings and otherwise communicate with the team members about the needs of victims in the correctional facility; seek clarification on how to coordinate with them in the case of a sexual assault of a resident; share the new facility policy; and encourage facility response to be incorporated into the SART protocol.
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