Partnering with Corrections
This month, we’ll be talking about how SARTs can expand their response to the sexual violence that occurs in jails, prisons, and other detention and correctional facilities. Just as they do in our communities, SARTs can play an important role in facilitating communication among responders to sexual violence in detention settings. Through multidisciplinary collaboration, correctional facilities and community SARTs can provide inmate-survivors with a comprehensive, victim-centered response.
In addition to the large number of inmate-survivors who experienced sexual violence prior to their incarceration, it is estimated that 200,000 people experience sexual violence in incarceration every year. Victims/Survivors in custody, regardless of where they experienced sexual violence, are both highly vulnerable and underserved. A trauma-informed and coordinated response is crucial for the well-being of inmate-survivors. Passed by Congress in 2003, the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) has served as an important step in addressing the sexual violence that occurs in custody.
Under PREA, the response following a report of sexual violence in a correctional facility can involve a number of SART members. The finalized PREA Standards of 2012 require correctional facilities to provide victims/survivors in custody with access to victim advocacy, provide victims/survivors with a forensic medical exam when appropriate, and conduct investigations into allegations of sexual abuse and sexual harassment. When the evidence collected by investigators appears to support criminal prosecution, PREA requires facilities to consult with prosecutors. Following an investigation, all substantiated reports that appear criminal are referred to prosecution as well.
Although it may take some adapting, SARTs and correctional agencies can build relationships and work together to create better responses for inmate-survivors. These relationships can work in a variety of ways to be successful for different communities.
Does your team have relationships with jails, prisons, or other facilities? What does your community’s response to PREA reports look like? Leave your comments, thoughts and questions below!
This month’s blog series was written by Sophia Berg, yearlong fellow at MNCASA focusing on rural advocacy, SARTs, and PREA.