Phase 1: Gathering information and planning
The coordinator should spearhead Phase 1 activities but may find it most helpful and efficient to assemble a committee or team to carry out the tasks. Buy-in and participation of facility leaders is crucial during Phase 1. Before the project launches, leaders should spend time educating themselves about sexual assault and becoming familiar with the issues and local service providers. A leader’s buy-in and participation should be visible to other staff, as it signals that this effort is a facility priority and sets up the coordinator for success.
POTENTIAL SOURCES OF INFORMATION
- SART (find out who coordinates it)
- Victim advocacy
- Rape crisis center
- Other agencies that provide related services (for example, for abused youth; domestic violence victims; victims who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, queer, or intersex (LGBTQI); victims with disabilities; and victims who are Deaf or need an interpreter or translation services)
Try to identify a hospital with a sexual assault nurse examiner or sexual assault forensic examiner (SANE/SAFE) program. If no such programs are near you, identify hospital emergency rooms that can conduct the sexual assault medical forensic exam with your facility’s residents.
- Law enforcement agencies with criminal jurisdiction over the area where the facility is located
- Prosecutor’s office with criminal jurisdiction in the area where the facility is located
- Victim advocacy
- State coalition against sexual assault
- Agencies specific to corrections or protection of children/vulnerable persons
- Local or state level advisory or coordinating entities (for example, a criminal justice advisory council)
- Correctional agencies that send their inmates to the facility
- Agencies that require mandatory reporting of abuse or otherwise have oversight of the facility and investigative responsibilities
- Review the PREA requirements related to facility response regarding disclosure, reports, and discovery of sexual assault.
- Assess how the facility’s current sexual assault response policy will need to change to comply with PREA requirements. See Appendix 2 for the chart “Elements of a Sexual Assault Response Policy.”
- Reach out to the leaders of key community agencies that are potential partners in this effort and hold introductory discussions about functions, services, and how a partnership might work in practice.
- Explore what additional information you may need after having the discussions described above. In particular, consider surveying facility staff to assess their beliefs and attitudes about sexual assault. (Note that in this tool, “facility staff” refers to employees, contractors, and volunteers.) Consider engaging an outside researcher to conduct interviews with facility residents.
- Assess the data collected—and based on findings, devise a plan for how to proceed in linking with the SART and developing or revising the facility’s sexual assault response policy.
- Identify people and organizations outside the facility that can be sources of useful information. (See “Potential Sources of Information” at right.) When you approach community agencies, understand that they are experts in sexual assault intervention and respect that they have their own language, priorities, and challenges. Be prepared to help those agencies understand the language, priorities, and challenges of your facility with regard to this effort.
- Identify questions to ask community agencies to gather the information you need. (See “Interview Questions for SART Agencies” in Appendix 3.) Although you may want to interview some people individually, you can also invite them to a group discussion as a way to jump-start cross-agency collaboration.
- Consider surveying facility staff to gather baseline data on awareness, beliefs, and attitudes about sexual assault. (See “SARTCP Questionnaires” in Appendix 4.) Such data can help identify strengths and gaps in staff knowledge and help shape future staff training. An anonymous survey may yield the most useful and candid information. A similar follow-up survey could be used to help measure the effectiveness of this effort, exploring whether working with the SART, the policy changes, staff training, and resident education have strengthened facility response, changed beliefs, and/or affected attitudes.
- Consider engaging an outside researcher to conduct interviews with facility residents. If feasible, engaging an outside researcher to conduct interviews with facility residents could yield extremely useful information about how prevalent sexual assault and harassment is in the facility, how safe residents feel, and how willing they are to report sexual assault or harassment if it occurs. As part of the interview process, outside researchers must seek informed consent of residents and assure them that the interview and their answers are confidential.
- Gather additional information online about state laws, mandatory reporting requirements, or other regulations for minors and vulnerable adults, state sexual assault medical forensic examination protocols, and other responsibilities.
See the Corrections SAFE Guide for more information about core SART responders and their potential roles in response to victims in correctional settings.
Find your local or regional rape crisis center. If you’re not sure what’s near you, go to the National Sexual Assault Resource Center’s listing of state and territory sexual assault coalitions. Your state coalition can help identify which centers are close to a particular correctional facility, as well as brainstorm with you about ways to find victim advocates if there is no local or regional center. To identify hospitals that have SANE/SAFE programs, ask the staff at the local rape crisis center.
ASSESS INFORMATION GATHERED AND DEVISE A PLAN
- Compile the information gathered through discussions, surveys, and online searches. The following types of information may be particularly helpful:
- SART functions and services of SART agencies;
- facility staff and SART agencies’ awareness of and attitudes toward sexual assault in corrections;
- current policies of the SART and each SART agency’s role in responding to sexual assault;
- current training that SART agency staff receives to prepare them to respond to sexual assault;
- additional training that SART agencies might need before working with victims in correctional settings;
- training and education that SART agencies might be able to offer to facility staff;
- SART agencies’ level of interest in collaborating with the facility;
- SART agencies’ history of and capacity for responding to sexual assault of correctional facility residents;
- existing relationships between SART agencies and the facility;
- a list of any agencies beyond those involved in the SART that could be helpful in a facility’s response (for example, community agencies that work with people who are Deaf or LGBTQI); and
- relevant state laws and requirements: sex offense laws, mandatory reporting requirements, other related regulations for minors and vulnerable adults, and sexual assault forensic-evidence-collection-kit requirements and examination protocols.
- Assess data for the main issues and needs related to the facility’s collaboration with the SART and incorporating a SART approach into facility policy, including the following:
- correctional facility’s strengths and needs related to its current response to sexual assault;
- SART agencies’ readiness to be involved in response to sexual assault of facility residents;
- SART agencies’ willingness to help incorporate a SART approach in correctional facility policy;
- existing partnerships with community agencies that will support this effort;
- new relationships that need to be built;
- resources for the facility personnel to leverage; and
- other issues and challenges.
- Devise a plan for working with the SART, developing or revising the facility sexual assault response policy to incorporate a SART approach, training facility staff about the policy, and sharing policy information with the SART. (Phases 2-4 of this tool cover those tasks.)
- Convene facility leaders to discuss the information gathered and work through the plan for moving forward.
- Organize a meeting of facility directors, program directors, training directors, and other key staff to introduce the initiative and plan the next steps for coordinating with the community SART.