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Assessing the Justice System Response to Violence Against Women

A Tool for Communities to Develop Coordinated Responses

Kristin Littel, M.A.
Promising Practices Initiative Coordinator

Mary B. Malefyt, J.D.

Alexandra H. Walker

Joan A. Kuriansky, M.A., J.D., Editor

Battered Women's Justice Project, Civil Access Center
Contributing Author 

Battered Women's Justice Project, Criminal Justice Center
Contributing Author 

Published: July 1998

Table of Contents

Author's notes
Introduction
Connecticut Office of Adult Probation; Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services, Inc.; and Sex Offender Treatment
Overview and Mission
Demographics
Description of Response
Council Against Rape; District Attorney's Office; Police Department; Sheriff's Department; and Columbia Regional Medical Center
Overview and Mission
Demographics
Description of Response
Domestic Abuse Intervention Project
Overview and Mission
Demographics
Description of Response
Family Violence Coordinating Council
Overview and Mission
Demographics
Description of Response
Fresno Rape Counseling Center
Overview and Mission
Demographics
Description of Response
Governor's Task Force on Domestic and Sexual Violence
Overview and Mission
Demographics
Description of Response
Justice System Agencies; Shelter and Advocacy Programs; and other Community Agencies
Overview and Mission
Demographics
Description of Response
Soaring Eagles Coordinated Community Response Team
Overview and Mission
Demographics
Description of Response
The North Dakota Council on Abused Women's Services, and the Montana and Wyoming Coalitions Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
Overview and Mission
Demographics
Description of Response
Oglala Lakota Nation, Oglala Sioux Tribe, and Cangleska, Inc.Oglala Lakota Nation, Oglala Sioux Tribe, and Cangleska, Inc.Oglala Lakota Nation, Oglala Sioux Tribe, and Cangleska, Inc.
Mission and Overview
Demographics
Description of Program Response
Santa Clara County Domestic Violence CouncilSanta Clara County Domestic Violence Council
Overview and Mission
Demographics
Description of Program Response
Victim Services of Dodge, Fillmore, and Olmsted County
Overview and Mission
Description of Response
Women's Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh
Overview and Mission
Demographics
Description of Response

Author's notes

A product of the Promising Practices Initiative of the STOP Violence Against Women Grants Technical Assistance Project

The goal of the Technical Assistance Project is to strengthen the criminal justice system response to victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking. The project is a collaboration of the Battered Women's Justice Project and the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, a project of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

This project was supported by Grant No. 95-MU-MU-KO2O, awarded by the Violence Against Women Grants Office, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. Points of view or opinions stated in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Introduction

Many communities have developed a coordinated response to domestic violence, and in some instances, to sexual assault. Coordination takes many forms, but at the core of any such effort is a commitment of the participants to develop:

  • a shared philosophical framework on violence against women;

  • an understanding of each others' roles; and

  • a plan to improve the response of different institutions and agencies to violence against women. While victims and offenders of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking are both men and women, the vast majority of victims are female and offenders are male. For this reason, victims are referred to as women and offenders as men throughout this document.

Often, the impetus to coordinate efforts evolves out of a frustration with the fragmentation of policies and activities within the criminal justice system. Experience tells us that there can be significant improvement in responding to victim needs and holding offenders accountable when various sectors affirmatively work together. Improvements include:

  • an increase in calls to the police and victim service programs;

  • an increase in arrests;

  • more cases charged as felonies; and

  • a decrease in domestic violence-related homicides.

While some coordination may be highly structured, formal, and involve representatives from all relevant agencies and groups; other efforts may have specifically defined goals, be more informal and involve fewer agency representatives.

Community-based victim service programs; third-party grassroots advocacy programs; and governmental agencies or sectors within the justice system often initiate coordinating efforts.

A community may employ several coordinated approaches to respond to violence against women. These approaches can include:

  • Community partnering . In this model, the victim service program usually identifies a strategic plan for community action. The program partners with numerous individuals and organizations (e.g., the legal aid society, schools, media or faith-based groups) to work concurrently on various initiatives. Task specific work groups are established that draw upon the expertise of the community. Work plans are collaboratively developed and implemented by the victim service program and its partners. The victim service program orchestrates and oversees the work undertaken. Much of the information in the introduction was adapted from: Hart, B. (1995). Coordinated Community Approaches to Domestic Violence. Washington, D.C.: Paper presented at the Violence Against Women Research Strategic Planning Workshop, National Institute of Justice.

  • Community Organizing . Through these initiatives, victim service programs or community activists invite members of the general public to actively work to end violence against women (e.g., zero-tolerance campaigns, public rallies or protests or neighborhood anti-violence teams). Community organizing can address a discrete problem or attempt to transform the consciousness and practice of the entire community.

  • Councils and Task Forces . Community councils and task forces are formal entities initiated by victim service programs staff, government officials or justice system personnel. These coordinating bodies create forums for agencies and individuals to undertake special projects, such as data collection, policy and protocol development, multi-disciplinary training, and prevention and education initiatives.

  • Community Intervention . Community-based advocacy organizations have developed intervention projects to oversee coordinated community response, with the goals of promoting victim safety, offender accountability and public intolerance for domestic violence. Intervention projects can offer an independent evaluation of each sector's functions, broker relationships among the different sectors, and facilitate the promulgation of policies and protocols.

  • Training and Technical Assistance Projects . These efforts have produced a number of training curricula and written and audiovisual materials for justice personnel, advocates, and the human service and community groups.

Regardless of the approach an individual community pursues, the effectiveness of the intervention depends on the implementation of the following activities:

  1. development of a common philosophical framework;

  2. establishment of consistent policies for intervening agencies;

  3. monitoring and tracking individual cases to ensure practitioner accountability;

  4. coordination of the exchange of information and inter-agency communications;

  5. provision of resources and services to victims;

  6. sanctions, restrictions and services for offenders;

  7. protection of any children involved (in domestic violence cases); and,

  8. evaluation of the coordinated justice system response from the victims' perspective.

The STOP Violence Against Women Technical Assistance Project (STOP T.A. Project) conducted a national survey and consulted with local, state and national experts in the field to identify innovative coordinated community efforts to reduce and prevent violence against women. Many of the highlighted efforts illustrate specialized services created to respond to the needs of women of diverse and often underserved communities.

The upcoming manual on promising practices will include a series of practices on a coordinated response, as well as a checklist that readers can use to assess the coordinated response to violence against women in their community.

For further information about the programs listed, contact the Stop T.A. Project.

Phone 800-256-5883 Fax 202-265-0579 e-mail: STOPGrants_TA_Project@csgi.com

Connecticut Office of Adult Probation; Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services, Inc.; and Sex Offender Treatment

New Haven, Connecticut

Highlighted Feature: Community Supervision of Sex Offenders

Contact the STOP T.A. Project for more information.

Phone: 800-256-5883 Fax: 202-265-0579 e-mail: STOPGrants_TA_Project@csgi.com

Overview and Mission

Connecticut's Office of Adult Probation uses a multidisciplinary team approach to supervising sex offenders on probation and parole. The model is unique in its philosophy of:

  • enlisting community support in the supervision of offenders;

  • designating specially trained probation officers to staff the unit;

  • ensuring the input of victim advocates in decision-making;

  • joint supervision of offenders with treatment providers; and

  • an emphasis on community education about sexual assault as an p integral component of community notification.

The lead agency on the team, the Office of Adult Probation, is the largest alternative to incarceration program in the State, supervising a total of over 56,000 offenders (including non-sex offenders). The goals of the Sex Offender Supervision program are to:

  • ensure victim safety and community protection;

  • maximize the opportunity for the offender to participate and successfully complete treatment; and

  • hold offenders accountable through immediate response to violations of probation.

Demographics

New Haven has a population of approximately 130,474. Whites comprise 53.9 percent of the population, African Americans 36.1 percent, followed by Latinos and Asians at 13.2 percent and 2.4 percent respectively. New Haven is home to several colleges and universities.

Description of Response

Intensive Sex Offender Unit . In February of 1995, the Office of Adult Probation established an Intensive Sex Offender Unit to supervise high-risk sex offenders referred by the criminal court. The unit consists of four specially trained probation officers (three intensive officers with a maximum caseload of 25 each and one relapse prevention officer with a maximum caseload of 50), and a victim representative. The position of relapse prevention officer is a rotating position, providing the intensive officers with an opportunity for a break from the often psychologically and emotionally draining required by intensive supervision.

Maximum offender supervision includes:

  • unannounced home visits, including evening and weekend visits;

  • 24-hour, seven-days per week availability of unit officers;

  • collaboration and communication among law enforcement, family members, employers and others who are in contact with the offender; and

  • searches for at-risk behavior (e.g., evidence of children having been in the home, or toys which may be used to lure children, pornography, INTERNET checks, illegal substances or alcohol, and weapons).

In addition, probation officers and treatment providers jointly supervise cases:

  • treatment providers help to determine the level of risk and supervision modality of the offender;

  • probation officers and treatment providers jointly make decisions on cases;

  • probation officers are trained to co-facilitate treatment groups; and

  • probation officers and treatment providers make joint field and home visits.

All probation conditions are strictly enforced. Any violations are addressed immediately in order to reduce the risk of offender relapse. All Sex Offender Unit staff carry beepers, cellular phones and notebook computers to facilitate emergency communication.

Supervision enhanced by community network . An individualized supervision plan for each offender is developed in collaboration with treatment providers and the victim representative. The plan addresses such issues as:

  • appropriate employment and residence;

  • substance abuse treatment;

  • locations or activities which the offender must avoid; and

  • contact with family, children and others.

Based on that plan, the probation officer attempts to enlist the assistance of invested and knowledgeable individuals with whom the offender is in routine contact. In order to provide 24-hour supervision of the offender, the network of individuals involved in supervision may consist of law enforcement agencies, employers, educators, family members, and neighbors (in addition to the unit and treatment provider). Probation officers must develop and maintain contact with these individuals and educate them about the program and their role in offender supervision

Advocacy . Through a contractual relationship with the Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services, a victim representative holds a permanent position on the unit and is integrally involved in the supervision of the offender. The tasks of the victim representative are:

  • serving as a liaison to and advocate for the victim, concerning the sentencing and supervision of the offender;

  • participating in community notification and community education activities;

  • accompanying the probation officer on field and home visits;

  • maintaining communication with the victim concerning the offender's status;

  • providing direct support services to victims and family members who are experiencing trauma associated with the offender's release into the community; and

  • connecting survivors and secondary survivors (family, friends, and others) to long-term counseling services.

The victim representative is also involved in victim empathy treatment groups. The objective of these groups is to engender in the offender an understanding and sense of responsibility for the harm he has caused to his victims. In the more general sense, the victim representative encourages the probation officer and treatment personnel to consider the unique perspective of the victim as they make particular decisions about a case -- a perspective that was heretofore unavailable.

Specialized sex offender treatment . As with supervision, victim protection and community safety are top priorities of treatment. The specific operational goal is to "habilitate" offenders, or bring them to a "new level of positive functioning," rather than rehabilitate them (return to a previous level of functioning). At a minimum, treatment consists of:

  • relapse prevention: developing the repertoire and skills to refrain from future offending behavior;

  • victim empathy training: developing the necessary empathic capabilities to understand consequences and impact of actions on victims;

  • cognitive restructuring: the uncovering and correction of distorted thinking that has reinforced the offender's ability to rationalize his behavior;

  • medication: a percentage of offenders require specialized medication to appropriately control their urges to commit sexual offenses.

The Sex Offender Unit and treatment personnel are in constant contact concerning individual cases; however, formal meetings are held weekly.

Community notification and education . Recent legislation in Connecticut gave broad authority to probation and parole officers to disclose information concerning sex offenders to any person deemed to be appropriate. The supervision team follows a Sex Offender Notification Policy that was jointly formulated by the Board of Parole and the Office of Adult Probation, the Center for the Treatment of Problem Sexual Behavior and Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services.

The policy includes basic notification of victims and their parents or guardians, police, offenders' immediate family members, other occupants of the offender's residence, and treatment providers (including those providing treatment other than sex offender treatment). If, by clinical assessment, the offender is found to be at extremely high-risk, notification is extended to immediate neighbors, local schools, child care providers, employers and other at-risk groups.

Community notification provides an opportunity for the Sex Offender Unit to educate the public about sex offenders and enlist their assistance in creating a network of supervision. In addition, a community education curriculum is being planned.

Determination of the offender's readiness to leave the Sex Offender Unit . There are certain signs indicating that an intensively supervised offender is ready to move to regular supervision. The offender must:

  • fully acknowledge his former behavior;

  • accept complete responsibility for his actions;

  • develop and institute a relapse prevention plan; and

  • make satisfactory progress in that plan.

Evaluation . Careful evaluation is a critical part of the overall program. The Research and Planning Division of the Village for Families and Children is conducting the research on the Sex Offender Unit. It examines the program's effectiveness in maintaining public safety, as well as the compliance of offenders with conditions and treatment.

In the course of the evaluation the following data is being collected and analyzed:

  • offender type;

  • non-criminal history (family history or past substance abuse.);

  • criminal charges and history;

  • types, lengths, and progress in treatment;

  • probation experience; and

  • treatment and probation discharge.

Council Against Rape; District Attorney's Office; Police Department; Sheriff's Department; and Columbia Regional Medical Center

Montgomery, Alabama

Highlighted Feature: Sexual Assault Response Team

Contact the STOP T.A. Project for more information.

Phone: 800-256-5883 Fax: 202-265-0579 e-mail: STOPGrants_TA_Project@csgi.com

Overview and Mission

In 1996, the Montgomery Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) was established by the Council Against Rape. Its initial purpose was to improve the experience of sexual assault victims who go to the local hospital emergency department for a forensic examination. It has since expanded its goals to developing an effective multi-disciplinary approach for responding to sexual assaults in Montgomery.

Demographics

Montgomery is a medium sized city with a population of approximately 350,000. It hosts several colleges and universities and two air force bases. The racial composition is 47 percent African-American and 53 percent white. In 1997, 114 reports of sexual assault were received by law enforcement agencies.

Description of Response

Multi-disciplinary team composition . The membership of the SART is open to any local representative from a profession that is affected by sexual assault. The current team includes representatives from:

  • Montgomery City Police and the Sheriff's department;

  • the District Attorney's Office;

  • the Council Against Rape;

  • the local domestic violence program;

  • the state forensic laboratory;

  • Columbia Regional Medical Center;

  • the Alabama Crime Victim's Compensation Board; and

  • forensic nurses.

Julie Lindsey, coordinator of the Council Against Rape, believes the SART is fortunate to have the occasional participation of the local media, who report accurately and sensitively about sexual assault issues. The Family Advocacy Center of the Maxwell Air Force Base, which frequently refers victims to the Council Against Rape, sends a representative to the monthly meeting of the SART. The SART avoids scheduling any meetings that would conflict with the local domestic violence task force events.

The SART hopes to expand membership to include representatives from campus security from local colleges and universities, the largest of which is Auburn University at Montgomery. The Council Against Rape eventually would like to introduce the SART to the three outlying counties it serves in addition to Montgomery.

Establishment and monitoring of the sexual assault nurse examiner program . The SART was originally formed to rally community support for the establishment of a sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE) program. The SANE program will be referred to throughout this section as the nurse examiner program to avoid any confusion with the SART. The city of Montgomery has a rotating emergency room system that resulted in a chaotic experience for sexual assault victims, who had to wait anywhere from two to 12 hours to be examined. While all area hospitals supported the concept of offering specialized care to sexually assaulted patients, none were initially willing to offer designated space for a nurse examiner program.

In response, the Council Against Rape invited representatives from law enforcement, prosecution and health care to discuss the need for a nurse examiner program in Montgomery. Participants explored the positive impact that improving forensic evidence collection and providing compassionate care to the victim would have on sexual assault cases. Consequently, an administrator from Columbia Regional Hospital agreed to offer space in his facility for the nurse examiner program.

Since the nurse examiner program opened in March of 1997, the meetings and activities of the SART have been focused on coordinating the various disciplines involved in responding to victims of sexual assault in the emergency room. A procedures manual has been developed that outlines the responsibilities of all disciplines. During the monthly meetings, participants discuss individual cases that the nurse examiner program has handled. The victim is assigned an identifying case number to protect her privacy.

Because the nurse examiner program is relatively new, the SART is monitoring its performance closely. The team reviews each case from the point of initial contact to its status at the time of the meeting. The following data is collected on each case:

  • the demographic information of the victim;

  • the time of day when the victim entered the emergency room; and

  • the length of time of the examination.

Issues addressed by the SART have included the chain of custody and payment for exams. Before the establishment of the SART, there was a weak link in the chain of custody for the completed forensic examination kit. Montgomery police were not picking up the kit quickly enough, requiring the hospital to find a volunteer nurse to wait with the kit so that the chain of custody would not be broken until the police came by to pick it up. The SART provided a mechanism to discuss this problem and encourage the police department to respond more quickly.

The SART has also succeeded in convincing the local hospital to bill the Alabama Crime Victim's Compensation Board for the cost of the forensic medical examination rather than its earlier practice of charging the victim. The Crime Victim's Compensation Board, which sends a representative to the SART meetings, supports adopting this billing procedure for the entire State.

System-wide activities . The SART is currently:

  • reviewing procedures followed by victim services, police and prosecution in handling sexual assault cases (including those not seen in the hospital emergency room);

  • examining State statutes addressing sexual assault; and

  • reviewing individual cases (beyond hospital related cases).

SART meetings provide an opportunity for the Council Against Rape, law enforcement agencies, and the nurse examiner program to compare the number and the kinds of cases they handle. This information has helped facilitate discussion on:

  • barriers victims face in obtaining services from each discipline and across disciplines;

  • areas needing additional victim outreach; and

  • areas where coordination among agencies could improve response to victims.

Subcommittees have been formed to coordinate training and to revise policies and procedures, respectively. Currently, the training subcommittee is planning a workshop for law enforcement. Representatives of both the local police and sheriff's department sit on the subcommittee and thus are involved in identifying topics to be included in the training curriculum.

Lindsey hopes the SART will be able to hire a full-time independent coordinator, who is hired and supervised by the Council Against Rape, in order to bring new members to the team and to manage its day-to-day operations. Lindsey is currently performing this function, in addition to her responsibilities at the Council.

Community support . The SART has encouraged the community of Montgomery to share responsibility for addressing sexual assault. For example, the team was successful in its early efforts to build community support for the nurse examiner program. Extensive media coverage of the opening of the nurse examiner program increased the community's awareness of sexual assault. Local chapters of the National Council of Jewish Women and the Homebuilders Ladies' Auxiliary adopted the nurse examiner program as one of their charitable causes. These organizations decorated the examination facility, collected clothing and purchased toiletries for victims to use after the examination.

Domestic Abuse Intervention Project

Duluth, Minnesota

Highlighted Feature: Independent Advocacy Program Oversees Coordinated Response to Domestic Violence

Contact the STOP T.A. Project for more information.

Phone: 800-256-5883 Fax: 202-265-0579 e-mail: STOPGrants_TA_Project@csgi.com

Overview and Mission

The Duluth Domestic Abuse Intervention Project (DAIP), a program component of Minnesota Development, Inc., is a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to fostering a coordinated community response to domestic violence. Founded in 1981, the primary goals of the program are victim safety, offender accountability, and changing the climate of tolerance toward violence in the community. The DAIP offers a variety of services, including:

  • coordination among criminal justice system personnel and other service providers to make sure the needs and safety concerns of victims of domestic violence are met;

  • a men's nonviolence education program, providing classes to domestic violence offenders in the community at no cost;

  • advocacy to the partners of the men in the nonviolence education program, including a support group that meets twice a month;

  • a class for women who have used violence; and

  • victim advocacy for Native Americans through the Mending the Sacred Hoop project.

The same year the DAIP was established, the Duluth Police Department became the first police department in the United States to institute and enforce a mandatory arrest policy. Since that time, the police department has worked closely with other agencies in the criminal justice system and DAIP in developing a coordinated community response in Duluth. Officers receive extensive training in documenting domestic violence cases and provide needed information to all the criminal justice agencies.

The Duluth Police Department received a COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) Grant in the fall of 1996 to pursue an even more coordinated effort in responding to domestic violence cases. Through this grant, the police department hired a domestic violence investigator, a part-time advocate, and a domestic violence specialist who coordinates the flow of information in and out of the department.

Demographics

Duluth is located in St. Louis County in Northeastern Minnesota on the shores of Lake Superior. The city covers 43,000 acres and has a population of approximately 89,000. Duluth is primarily a white working-class community, with 2 percent Native Americans (primarily Anishinabe and Dakota), 9 percent African-Americans, and 9 percent Asian-Americans. Shipping, mining and tourism constitute several of Duluth's major industries. Two universities are located in Duluth.

Description of Response

Essential elements of a coordinated community response . The DAIP has identified eight characteristics and activities of an effective coordinated community response, which it fosters in its own work.

  1. Develop a common philosophical framework . The community and practitioners should have a common understanding about battering and the complicated dynamics of domestic violence. This promotes an atmosphere conducive to holding offenders accountable and avoiding victim blaming.

  2. Create consistent policies for intervening agencies . The DAIP assists agencies in developing policies that respect the efforts of other agencies and incorporate the goals of intervention. DAIP works to ensure that women who have been battered are involved in policy development and victim safety is a primary goal of policies. Practitioners from across disciplines work with DAIP to develop trainings that facilitate consistency in policy implementation throughout the criminal justice system.

  3. Monitor and track individual cases to ensure practitioner accountability . Each agency has a clear understanding of its role and the role of other agencies in responding to domestic violence. After determining what case information is important to each agency, the DAIP assists agencies in routinely locating and obtaining that information. Utilizing a computer database, the DAIP maintains case files on each domestic violence offender and tracks cases through the system to ensure:

    • the offender is complying with all orders of the court;

    • practitioners are complying with policies; and

    • individual and systemic problems are identified.

    When problems arise, DAIP staff can review case files and conduct interviews with practitioners or affected victims to ascertain the nature of the issue. Subsequently, DAIP staff may informally bring together practitioners to discuss the problem and develop solutions, which are implemented and evaluated from the perspective of their impact on victim safety.

  4. Coordinate the exchange of information and inter-agency communications . DAIP assists practitioners in developing routing systems for information on individual cases and program decisions. For example:

    • the men's nonviolence education program facilitators keep track of offenders' behavior on probation and class attendance, and relay that information to the probation department;

    • the men's nonviolence program also convenes meetings among facilitators, probation agents, battered women's advocates, and police to discuss specific cases and issues;

    • a domestic violence specialist (whose role is discussed below) serves as a link among the different sectors; and

    • a checklist for report writing and investigation helps law enforcement officers gather the maximum amount of information at the domestic violence crime scene.

  5. Provide resources and services to victims . Since its beginning, the DAIP has worked closely with advocates from the Women's Coalition, the local shelter, to carry out its activities. This relationship helps ensure that development of policies and programs, as well as monitoring and evaluation, are grounded in the concrete experiences of battered women.

    Advocates from the coalition contact victims immediately after any arrest is made, and offer a variety of direct support services and options (see below). Women's resource advocates at the DAIP contact the partners of every offender in the men's nonviolence education program, to obtain information about the history of abuse and to invite them to orientation sessions to explain the program. Advocacy is enhanced by the police department's willingness to give advocates access to police reports and other information.

  6. Ensure sanctions, restrictions and services for offenders . The DAIP has successfully advocated to law enforcement departments to adopt a mandatory arrest policy, developed policies with prosecutors and judges that discourage the "screening out" of cases, and encouraged strict penalties for repeat offenders.

    Recently, the probation department developed a specific pre-sentence investigation form in domestic violence cases that encourages documentation of the full history of an offender's violent behavior. Probation officers conduct this investigation with the help of other agencies and advocates, who route important history and risk factor data to them, and make sentencing recommendations using this information.

  7. Work to protect children . DAIP develops programs and intervention strategies to protect children and minimize the effects of domestic violence on them. While the coordinated response promotes a strong link between agencies and child protective services, it underscores the trauma suffered by children who are separated from their mothers. Through educational workshops, child protective workers are trained to:

    • identify harm caused to children who are separated from their non-abusive parents;

    • understand the relationship of communities of color to child intervention services;

    • understand the nature, cause and extent of domestic violence; and

    • use a variety of tools to screen for domestic violence.

    The Visitation Center, another component of Minnesota Program Development, Inc., offers a safe and neutral drop-off site where parents can be assured of a safe exchange of children for visitation with a non-custodial parent who has perpetrated domestic violence. Use of the Visitation Center is authorized, and in some cases, court-ordered for non-custodial parents when:

    • the non-custodial parent has used children to control his former partner;

    • when children or custodial parents report a fear of violence, intimidation, or harassment connected with visits; or

    • when there are concerns that a non-custodial parent will leave the county with the children.

  8. Evaluate the coordinated justice system response from the victims' perspective . The coordinated community response includes a comprehensive evaluation component that looks at the impact of policies and protocols on victims of domestic violence. A variety of evaluation methods are utilized, with a focus on obtaining feedback directly from battered and formerly battered women on the success or failure of policies or programs. DAIP and shelter staff also collect data on a continuing basis to determine if agreed-upon procedures and policies are consistently applied. DAIP staff review police, court, shelter and DAIP records and conduct telephone interviews with victims.

Partnership between advocates and police . The Women's Coalition developed an agreement with the Duluth Police Department to provide follow-up advocacy to victims immediately after a domestic assault. Once the arresting officer transfers custody of the suspect to the jail, the jail contacts the Women's Coalition, providing the name, number and address of the victim. The Women's Coalition notifies an on-call advocate, who attempts to contact the victim right away. The advocate offers the victim information and support, and asks her a series of questions intended to elicit information about the actual level of violence and dangerousness of the perpetrator. With the victim's permission, the advocate notifies probation officers and prosecutors to discuss charging and bail conditions. Advocates are also available to accompany victims to interviews with law enforcement.

Prosecution-led training for police . Every year, the Duluth City Attorney's Office participates in training law enforcement officers on the investigation and documentation of domestic assault cases from a prosecutor's standpoint. The training is intended to help officers identify and/or properly document:

  • battering behavior;

  • excited utterances (as well as other statements that could fall into a hearsay exception);

  • self defense;

  • the full range of information needed from the victim (e.g., histories and risk assessment); and

  • all victim injuries.

Development of a domestic violence specialist position . The Duluth Police Department, in collaboration with the DAIP, the Women's Coalition, probation department and the city attorney's office, created a multi-agency position, called the domestic violence specialist, in 1996 to organize and direct the flow of information in domestic violence cases through the criminal justice system. The police department, prosecutor's office and probation office jointly supervise the domestic violence specialist. The domestic violence specialist's office is located in the Duluth Police Department.

The domestic violence specialist is responsible for building complete files on every reported domestic violence case, and routing the files to prosecution and probation for consideration at the arraignment and pre-trial hearings. The specialist:

  • reviews 911 "watch reports" on a daily basis and pulls every domestic violence-related case, including those that were mis-coded or involve domestic violence in any way (these reports initiate the creation of each file);

  • immediately locates the draft police report that corresponds to each 911 call, and any other criminal history on the suspect;

  • contacts the women's shelter to get the victim's record of the history and severity of violence; and

  • locates and files any other information available on the suspect, including outstanding or past civil protection orders, suspect's previous involvement in batterer's treatment programs, probation history, and any available evidence for the current assault.

The domestic violence specialist then hand-delivers the file to the probation office for supervised release determinations and sentencing recommendations. The prosecutor's office reviews the file prior to pretrial. The specialist adds additional information to the file as it becomes available.

The Domestic Violence Safety and Offender Accountability Audit . Since 1996, Duluth and St. Louis County piloted several audits to examine the institutional processes in place to respond to battered women, and whether the goals of victim safety and offender accountability are being met. The multi-agency audit team, formed with the full support of agency supervisors, is composed of representatives of the probation department, law enforcement, the district attorney's office, the city attorney's office, the Women's Coalition, and DAIP. The team examines various components of Duluth's system, including:

  • its technology and resources;

  • rules and regulations;

  • administrative procedures;

  • linkages, education and training; and

  • the relative social positions of victims, offenders, and practitioners.

Future changes to the Duluth system will be based upon the results of the audit. DAIP is compiling a manual that describes the audit process and provides practical and helpful audit tools in order to help other jurisdictions conduct an audit of a single agency or an entire jurisdiction's response to domestic violence.

Family Violence Coordinating Council

Peoria, IL

Highlighted Feature: Judicial-Based Community Collaboration

Contact the STOP T.A. Project for more information.

Phone: 800-256-5883 Fax: 202-265-0579 e-mail: STOPGrants_TA_Project@csgi.com

Overview and Mission

In 1993, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Illinois convened the Illinois Family Violence Coordinating Council. The State council's mission includes fostering the development of local family violence coordinating councils, which are multi-disciplinary, multi-county and convened by chief judges. Since that time, 14 local councils covering 66 counties and 13 judicial circuits have been launched. Recently, this network of State and local councils received funding from the Illinois legislature.

The leadership for this effort was delegated to the victim services coordinator in the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts (AOIC). The coordinator recruited judges to launch the councils and then teamed them up with the local domestic violence programs to ensure that the intent of

Illinois' victim-centered domestic violence law would be fully implemented.

Through the support of the state administrative office and local community leaders, new councils continue to emerge every year. Existing councils are expanding their scope to include additional jurisdictions and agencies. Each of the councils, while similar in structure, brings their own perspectives to addressing issues in the context of prevention, intervention, and education.

One of the oldest and most successful councils in Illinois is located in the Tenth Judicial Circuit. This council has served as a model for the rest of the State because of the enthusiastic participation by circuit judges and other community leaders, the variety and quality of committee work, and the administrative and program support from the advocacy program.

The advocacy program, the Center for Prevention of Abuse, is the only agency in Illinois to have a domestic violence, sexual assault and elder abuse program under one roof. Center staff worked with the chief judge and the director from the AOIC to bring their local Family Violence Coordinating Council (FVCC) to life in the spring of 1994. Leaders from law enforcement, prosecution, education, health care, the clergy, probation, and other social services have since joined the council.

Demographics

Five counties make up the Tenth Judicial Circuit, which is located in the heart of Illinois. Peoria, population 110,000, is the commercial and cultural hub of the Circuit. The outlying bedroom communities of Peoria are rural and scattered. Forty percent of the population is African-American, representing 6 percent of the population of the whole circuit. Other racial or ethnic populations exist in relatively small numbers.

Description of Response

Judicial leadership . Having the chief circuit judge convene the councils brings great power to the coordinating effort. The impartiality of the court enticed players to the table who might not otherwise have attended.

The Chief Judge of the Tenth Circuit delegated the responsibility of the FVCC to the Honorable Bruce Black, one of the Circuit Court judges. Martha Herm, Executive Director of the Center for Prevention of Abuse, stresses that: "Judge Black's passion for the issue of family violence and the council process has been the spark that keeps the FVCC on track. He inspires everyone to rise above individual differences for the good of the community effort."

Local symposium to launch the FVCC . Judge Black and staff from the Center for Prevention of Abuse worked with the AOIC to sponsor an all-day local symposium on family violence in September of 1993. Over a thousand representatives from various agencies and community organizations were invited to the symposium. Approximately 600 attended. The purpose of the symposium was to:

  • educate community professionals on family violence; and

  • promote a shared and appropriate vision of coordinated community response.

Because the issue of family violence had gained attention on the national and local level, attendees were eager for information. Feedback from participants indicated that the knowledge they gained through the symposium about domestic violence and community collaboration would help them serve their constituents better.

Formation of the council . Those who attended the symposium were then invited to participate in the circuit-wide council. One hundred fifty participants from the symposium responded and the original council at-large was formed. Twenty at-large members were selected to serve on a steering committee. These members were mainly leaders of local agencies responsible for direct response to domestic violence (e.g., a police captain, a state's attorney, the Headstart director, a medical officer of an emergency room and staff from the domestic violence advocacy program). Judge Black co-chairs the steering committee with a community volunteer. The co-chairs, along with the executive director and an administrative staff from the Center for Prevention of Abuse, formed a behind-the-scenes executive committee.

Development of committees . The steering committee evolved over a two-year period and is composed of chairs of several committees. The committees were organized to close the gaps in the community response to domestic violence victims. The committees focus on:

  • the Civil Court;

  • the Criminal Court,

  • Court Services;

  • Child Abuse;

  • Children & Education;

  • Elder Victims;

  • Helping Services;

  • Health Care;

  • Interfaith United; and

  • Minority Issues and Rural Counties.

Two additional committees, respectively named Innerworks and Resources, were formed to address administrative issues of the FVCC. The Center placed a staff member on each committee so that the victim's perspective is always represented.

Today, 350 individuals are on the council's mailing list. Most of these individuals are, or have been, actively involved in committee work.

The council at-large meets quarterly. The agenda typically includes a short training program. Some of the topics have included:

  • the relationship between animal abuse and family violence;

  • the effects of domestic violence on children,

  • substance abuse and family violence; and

  • opportunities for collaboration between probation officers and experts who conduct batterer intervention programs.

The steering committee meets monthly, as do most of the committees.

FVCC initiatives . The FVCC committees have undertaken the following policy or training initiatives:

  • a protocol for health care professionals, with the costs for printing and distribution underwritten by a local hospital;

  • a universal order of protection form for use throughout the circuit;

  • trainings for clergy and lay women and a memorial service for victims;

  • a conference on family wellness;

  • a poster contest, "Peace Begins at Home," held in all grade schools of three rural counties; and

  • a comprehensive directory of services and resources for use by victims, agency personnel and community residents.

While the council does not review individual cases, it has increased communications among agencies that interact with victims and offenders. As a result, there have been increased efforts to:

  • build trust among personnel from different disciplines and understanding of the role of each agency;

  • improve systemic coordination of interventions and victim services; and

  • ensure that perpetrators encounter a more demanding standard of accountability.

Since the FVCC was formed, there has been an increase in the number of victims seeking help from the Center for Prevention of Abuse and in the number of perpetrators being ordered to its abuser education program.

Recent financial support from the State . Through 1997, the council operated on a meager budget, with several participating agencies taking turns to pay for postage to send a monthly newsletter. Some of the committees sponsored training events that earned a small profit. Otherwise, the Center for Prevention of Abuse assumed all administrative council costs, including a part-time staff member who served as the administrative liaison to the FVCC. This staff person attended most committee meetings to record discussions, published the newsletters and arranged at-large meetings. While maintaining the council required considerable resources of the Center, the agency's board and staff saw the coordinating work as a crucial part of their mission of serving victims.

In 1998, the State legislature allocated funds to cover local FVCC expenses. This funding allowed the 10th District Council to hire an administrative assistant responsible for the duties previously handled by the Center for Prevention of Abuse.

Fresno Rape Counseling Center

Fresno, CA

Highlighted Feature: Partnerships to Improve Services to Victims

Contact the STOP T.A. Project for more information.

Phone: 800-256-5883 Fax: 202-265-0579 e-mail: STOPGrants_TA_Project@csgi.com

Overview and Mission

The Fresno Rape Counseling Center is a comprehensive sexual assault victim service program. The Center provides:

  • 24-hour crisis intervention:

  • medical and legal advocacy:

  • support groups and counseling;

  • public education; and

  • self-defense workshops.

The Center facilitates or participates in several efforts to coordinate the criminal justice system's response to sexual assault. To improve victims' access to advocacy services, the Center partners with local law enforcement agencies. Recently, the Rape Counseling Center helped form a Sexual Assault Response Team to coordinate a multidisciplinary response to sexual assault victims who undergo a sexual assault forensic examination.

Demographics

The City of Fresno is located in central California. In 1995, it had a population of 405,145. A significant percentage of jobs come from agriculture-related businesses. Just over half of the population is white. Persons of Hispanic origin comprise 38 percent of the population, Asians comprise 8 percent and African Americans are 5 percent of the total population.

Description of Response

Sexual Assault Response Team . A newly formed Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) gives law enforcement agencies, sexual assault victim advocates, and sexual assault nurse examiners (SANE) an opportunity to communicate about each discipline's response to sexual assault cases. The SANE program will be referred to throughout this section as the nurse examiner program to avoid any confusion with the SART. Each of the four local hospitals has a designated room for forensic medical examinations of sexual assault victims. The nurse examiners are on-call and arrive within 15 minutes of a call from the police dispatcher or the emergency room. In addition, police dispatch and the hospital are instructed to call the Rape Counseling Center's SART advocate (during business hours) or on-call advocate (all other times) to meet the nurse examiner and the victim at the hospital.

The SART holds monthly meetings that include representatives from the District Attorney's Office, the hospitals, law enforcement agencies, the Rape Counseling Center, and local child protective services. These meetings focus on how individual cases have been handled and provide a forum to address any gaps identified in the relatively new procedures.

Designated SART advocate . As of December 1997, the Rape Counseling Center entered into operational agreements with the police and sheriff's departments to establish a half-time sexual assault advocate in each department. The three agencies collaborated on writing the job description for the advocate positions and conducted interviews of potential candidates together. The SART advocate, as the position is called, meets victims who are undergoing forensic examinations at local hospitals and provides court accompaniment and support during all law enforcement interviews, as requested by the victim. The advocate's presence in the police and sheriff's departments increases the chances that all victims will be given assistance with emotional, financial, and safety issues, regardless of the status of their case in the criminal justice system.

The SART advocate holds a position on a multidisciplinary team, known as the "sexual predator response team," that assists in the supervision of sex offenders released into the community on probation or parole. The team, which also includes a district attorney and police officer, meets monthly with sex offenders, who describe how they are adjusting to release. Meeting with the sexual predator response team is a condition of the offender's release and allows the team to monitor his behavior and to communicate any concerns to his probation or parole officer.

On-scene advocacy . Increasingly, law enforcement personnel are requesting that the SART advocate provide crisis intervention and support services to victims and family members at the scene of a sexual assault. Detectives frequently contact advocates and ask them to accompany them to interview victims in their homes, particularly when the detectives know that the victims are reluctant to be interviewed. Advocates will comply if the officers or detectives transport them to and from the scene/home and stay with the advocate for the duration of her visit with the victim. The advocate can speak privately with the victim and explore her fears and concerns related to participating in the investigation or prosecution process. The advocate assures the victim that everything she discloses is confidential. In most cases, the information provided by the advocate to the victim allays her concerns sufficiently that she agrees to being interviewed. In cases where a victim doesn't want to have an advocate present during the interview, they are given information about the Rape Counseling Center's services for future reference.

Coordination between advocates and victim witness specialist . The Rape Counseling Center meets monthly with the district attorney's victim witness specialists to ensure that each is complementing the services provided by the other. Both entities make frequent referrals to each other. A written agreement outlines the services that both provide to victims as well as the agreed expectations concerning referrals and service provision. These include the expectation that victim witness specialists will inform sexual assault victims of the availability of services through the Rape Counseling Center and that the Rape Counseling Center will refer clients to the victim-witness specialist if they are considering reporting the incident. During the monthly meetings, the Rape Counseling Center and victim/witness staff can refine how they coordinate an individual victim's needs for court accompaniment and other services.

Modus Operandi . The Modus Operandi, or "M.O.," is a monthly luncheon that provides a diverse group of professionals and individuals interested in reducing and preventing sexual assault with the opportunity to learn from each other and invited guests. It is a unique event in that it offers participants an opportunity to get to know each other in an informal, social context. Consequently, professionals who may have to interact with each other in a sexual assault case can develop a relationship and begin to build the trust that is essential for coordination between and among various agencies.

The M.O. luncheon typically draws 40 to 50 people from the following disciplines or agencies:

  • the police sex crimes detective unit;

  • the California Department of Justice;

  • the Sexual Predator Probation Team;

  • the district attorney's office;

  • social services and child protective services; and

  • members of the new SART.

The luncheon is sponsored by a different agency each month that is responsible for arranging a guest speaker. Recent speakers have included:

  • a representative from the police department's Gang task force to talk about gang-related sexual assault;

  • a nurse examiner;

  • a newscaster who talked about media coverage of sex crimes; and

  • the sexual predator response team.

While it was not established for this purpose, the M.O. luncheon provides a forum to discuss problems and issues related to sexual assault in the community. One such concern is the perception of a delay in the nurse examiners' response to hospitals (they are available on an on-call basis). The release of a sex offender into the community has also been the subject of discussion. In the first instance, nurse examiners were able to explain why their response times will vary and pledge to improve their response time. In the second case, participants determined what their respective agencies could do to monitor the offender's presence.

Through the combination of regular opportunities to communicate about the handling of sexual assault cases and the development of partnerships to serve victims better, Rape Counseling Center staff believe the community is improving its response to survivors of sexual assault.

Governor's Task Force on Domestic and Sexual Violence

Tallahassee, Florida

Highlighted Feature: Statewide System Change on Behalf of Victims of Domestic Violence

Contact the STOP T.A. Project for more information.

Phone: 800-256-5883 Fax: 202-265-0579 e-mail: STOPGrants_TA_Project@csgi.com

Overview and Mission

The Governor's Task Force on Domestic and Sexual Violence is a statewide, coordinated and consensus-driven effort to define the resources necessary to end domestic violence in Florida. The task force implements policies and programs designed to improve the lives of battered women and their children. The dual goals of victim safety and perpetrator accountability are the driving forces behind the Task Force.

Demographics

Florida has approximately 14 million residents in 67 counties. Thirty-seven of the counties are predominantly rural. According to 1990 U.S. Census data, over one million of Florida's residents are of Hispanic origin, over one million are African American, approximately 150,000 are Asian or Pacific Islanders, and approximately 233,000 are from a variety of other backgrounds. Over one million Florida residents were born elsewhere in the United States. Two million Florida residents speak a language other than English in their homes.

Description of Response

Development of the task force . In 1993, a combination of community groups and organizations interested in family violence issues worked with the Governor to draft a plan to address domestic violence within the State. The concept of the Task Force developed in response to the recognition that, up until then, the discrete efforts of various professionals (victim services, criminal justice, social service) to assist battered women had been inadequate, and that a coordinated State effort was necessary to implement an effective and comprehensive response to victims' needs.

The task force began as an initiative with a staff of five and a membership of thirteen. It has expanded to include over thirty members and fourteen liaisons, and now has eleven staff members to handle the increased workload. The task force is housed in the Department of Community Affairs in the Office for the Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence and funded by State and Federal dollars.

Task force membership, liaisons and staff include formerly battered women and over 50 individuals from relevant systems involved in the response to domestic violence, including:

  • courts;

  • victim services;

  • social services;

  • law enforcement;

  • prosecution;

  • corrections;

  • legal services;

  • private law firms;

  • public defense;

  • medical and mental health care;

  • education; and

  • government.

All members are:

  • appointed by the Governor;

  • have extensive knowledge and experience in the area of domestic violence as it relates to their work; and

  • are committed to improving the systems which exist to assist battered women and their children.

Recommendations for change . In 1994, the task force submitted its first report to the Governor, which called for widespread changes throughout Florida's health care, law enforcement, legal and judicial systems. The task force fulfills recommendations through its STOP subgrantees; other grantees; through legislative action, etc. and updates the State on its program through its annual reports to the Governor. This collaborative process promotes interagency involvement, as well as agency accountability for systems change. The recommendations continue to guide the work of the task force and the State, as well as provide a vision for the work that remains to be completed.

Some of the recommendations already implemented are:

  • the development of training on domestic violence for Guardians Ad Litem ;

  • a statutorily mandated rebuttable presumption against shared parental responsibility if a parent is convicted of a felony of a third degree or higher involving domestic violence; and

  • the development of a screening tool [by the Department of Children and Families (DCF)] for child protective services investigators and comprehensive training among domestic violence centers and child welfare workers. The tool was developed by the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Children's Caucus.

Law enforcement initiatives . The task force has prompted a multitude of changes in law enforcement response, including increased domestic violence training within police academies and continuing education for police personnel.

The Florida legislature created and funded a statewide data processing system within the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for injunction (protection order) entry, content verification, and service status. The system is available on-line twenty-four hours, allowing field law enforcement officers to verify or update injunction information at any time.

Law enforcement officers now hand out brochures to victims that provide standard notice of legal rights and remedies. These brochures were re-written to include more information about victims' rights. They were also written in simpler language, to accommodate a variety of reading levels. The task force plans to translate the brochure into Spanish and Creole.

A statewide model policy for all of the State's law enforcement agencies was created through VAWA funding. Since the task force was created in 1994, reports of domestic violence incidents increased almost 10 percent, and arrests increased by 28 percent during the same period. The task force and law enforcement agencies attribute this rise in reporting rates to the changes in the law enforcement response to domestic violence.

Rural outreach initiatives . The majority of Florida's thirty-eight community-based domestic violence organizations are located in urban areas. Many of Florida's rural victims of domestic violence live in isolated areas with no access to transportation and are unable to receive the benefits offered by these programs.

The task force has hired a rural circuit rider to travel throughout Florida's twenty judicial circuits, evaluate and recommend appropriate domestic and sexual violence initiatives within Florida's rural communities. The Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence has developed a rural initiative designed to establish victim services in rural counties, and coordinate local grassroots efforts to respond to violence within these communities.

Site visits initiative . The task force seeks to ensure that effective policies are in place and enforced on a local level, where they will have a maximum impact. The Task force is conducting a series of on-site visits to jurisdictions around the State to:

  • identify strengths and weaknesses of local responses to violence against women;

  • discuss possible innovative solutions to existing problems; and

  • promote and strengthen the ability of each community to provide an effective coordinated response to domestic and sexual violence.

These site visits include rural, urban and suburban communities.

Survivor survey . In order to track and understand how systems treat victims of domestic and sexual violence, the task force introduced a survey of survivors. The survey, sent to survivors via victim service programs, asked questions about their experiences with the systems set up to assist them. The questions cover responses of health care, law enforcement, social services and judicial systems.

Many domestic and sexual violence survivors still report re-victimization by community systems set up to serve them. It is the goal of the task force to listen to the experiences of victims, and subsequently facilitate State and local improvements to address identified problems and strengthen the available services.

Justice System Agencies; Shelter and Advocacy Programs; and other Community Agencies

Dallas County, Texas

Highlighted Feature: Multi-faceted Community Coordination to Improve Response to Domestic Violence

Contact the STOP T.A. Project for more information.

Phone: 800-256-5883 Fax: 202-265-0579 e-mail: STOPGrants_TA_Project@csgi.com

Overview and Mission

Dallas County's coordinated community response to domestic violence has evolved over the last 20 years as a result of multi-faceted and multidisciplinary efforts. Coordination and collaboration among agencies continues to expand to address new problems or systemic gaps in the community response to victims and perpetrators of domestic violence.

A number of historical events have been pivotal to the progress of Dallas County's response to domestic violence. These include:

  • In 1978, Gerry Beer, founder of the Texas anti-domestic violence movement, opened the doors of the Family Place in Dallas. The Family Place was one of the first shelters in the State for homeless, abused women and their children.

  • In the mid-1980s, response to domestic violence was enhanced by a lawsuit against the city police department for failure to respond, on behalf of local domestic violence victims. The court ruling in favor of the victims acted as a catalyst for the justice system to quickly create mechanisms to improve their response to this crime. Subsequently:

    • the city of Dallas established a Domestic Violence Task Force under the leadership of the City Council;

    • the Dallas Police Department established a Domestic Violence Unit and began distributing "blue cards" (informational and referral resources for victims encountered during 911 emergency call responses);

    • the district attorney's office established a Family Violence Division and contracted with batterers' intervention programs to provide services for court-ordered perpetrators; and

    • since the opening of Family Place, seven additional shelters and advocacy programs have been established to address victim needs in Dallas County.

With such mechanisms in place in the justice system and the community, a progressive service delivery system has developed to intervene and help slow the domestic violence epidemic.

Demographics

Dallas County includes the city of Dallas and surrounding suburbs. It is a geographically sprawling, culturally diverse community. The population of Dallas County is 1,852,810. Forty-six percent of the population is white; 27 percent Hispanic; 27 percent African American; and 1 percent other racial/ethnic groups. Approximately 13 percent of its citizens live below the poverty level.

Description of Response

The coordinated efforts of many local agencies promote effective response to family violence victims and abusers.

Effective and coordinated justice system response . The following justice system interventions help ensure victim safety and offender accountability:

  • emergency crisis line response;

  • immediate crime scene intervention;

  • provision of victim referral cards for crisis resources;

  • enforcement of the mandatory arrest policy;

  • victim assistance in gaining access to the county public hospital emergency rooms or local shelters;

  • victim assistance in obtaining emergency protective orders;

  • victim assistance in safety planning;

  • pro bono victim legal advocacy;

  • appropriate offender sanctions and sentencing in the domestic violence criminal court; and

  • local batterer's intervention services.

The structures listed below help facilitate effective interventions and address problems in the justice system's response to domestic violence.

  • The Domestic Violence Task Force was convened by the city council, with the initial purpose of ensuring appropriate police response to domestic violence.

    A city council person assigned by the Mayor chairs the task force. The task force maintains an open membership and welcomes interested citizens to its quarterly meetings. Approximately 20 individuals typically attend meetings, including directors of shelter and advocacy programs, staff from the police department, the district attorney's office, and the probation and parole office, and a number of county residents. Professionals from the medical and legal communities may be consulted and involved in meetings, depending on current issues.

    While the focus remains on police response and communications between police and advocates, the task force has also evolved into a forum for information sharing among justice system agencies and advocates. Agency representatives are encouraged to report on related cases, statistics, and other issues or problems. Activities of other county coordinating efforts are also discussed.

    In the future, possible activities of the task force include the development of protocols within and between systems, and increased monitoring of justice system interventions and identification of gaps in services.

  • The sergeant from Dallas Police Department Family Violence Unit attends all Shelter Coalition meetings (see below), listens to advocates' needs, and answers questions about police-related matters, including specific instances where police did not make arrests.

    The open communication between police and advocates is partly due to the sergeant's training, understanding and sensitivity to domestic violence issues. He works with shelter and advocacy program staff to train other officers on domestic violence and communicate the importance of coordination with advocates in these cases.

  • A detective from the Dallas Police Department and an attorney from Lawyers Against Domestic Violence, an organization providing pro bono legal representation for victims of domestic violence, routinely provide "Shelter Nights Orientations" for residents at local shelters (as requested by shelter staff). Together, they explain the legal options available to battered women and answer questions residents have about police response and policies.

  • The Family Violence Division of the district attorney's office has established the Domestic Violence Awareness Coalition to guide the implementation of a coordinated and centralized response to victims and perpetrators of domestic violence. The coalition is currently in the process of:

    • developing a computerized offender tracking system to link all agencies that have contact with battered women and their abusers;

    • providing shelters with software and training to utilize the tracking system; and

    • working with advocates and court personnel to ensure mechanisms are in place to provide victims with information about how to obtain protection orders. (Advocates from the local shelters assist victims with filling out forms and protective order hearings); and

    • developing agreements with shelter and advocacy programs to provide telephone follow-up contact with victims when their partners have been court-ordered into batterers' intervention programs.

  • Two domestic violence programs, New Beginning Center and the Family Place, provide batterer's intervention and prevention programs. The Family Place provides training to probation staff to help them better understand the purpose of batterer's intervention programs and the importance of their role in monitoring offender compliance to the conditions of their sentences.

Crisis intervention and follow-up services for victims . Local shelter and advocacy programs work with social service agencies and private organizations to ensure extensive crisis and ongoing support services are available to victims and their families. Some of these services include:

  • 24-hour shelter crisis hotlines;

  • emergency shelter and specialized transitional housing for abused women and their children;

  • permanent housing through the Dallas Housing Authority (when available);

  • medical care coordinated through shelter programs, in conjunction with the Dallas Homeless Health Care Team Mobile Van program and the city of Dallas dental services;

  • individual and group counseling and programming for victims and children through shelter and advocacy programs;

  • legal advocacy through shelter and advocacy programs;

  • child care through a non-profit program for homeless families;

  • special school programs for homeless children through the Dallas Public Schools;

  • food stamps, Medicaid and cash assistance through the Texas Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); and

  • job training and employment location assistance through the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC).

Shelter and advocacy programs reach out to businesses and organizations within the community that may have contact with victims. The director of the Family Place expressed a need to do increased outreach to private hospitals, medical providers and faith-based organizations to encourage appropriate victim referrals to community resources.

The structures listed below help facilitate coordination and collaboration among community organizations that provide services for battered women and their children and organize domestic violence prevention activities.

  • Ongoing communication among the eight shelter and advocacy programs is coordinated by the North Texas Domestic Violence Shelter Coalition. Currently, the leadership for the Shelter Coalition is shared by two programs; Denton County Friends of the Family and Collin County Women's Shelter.

  • Dallas Association for Services to the Homeless (DASH) offers networking opportunity for shelter programs. Shelter involvement in DASH keeps advocates informed of services, activities and issues of community providers who serve the homeless or provide emergency, transitional and low-income permanent housing.

  • The Domestic Violence Prevention Coalition, formed by Genesis, a local shelter, and the Greater Dallas Injury Prevention Center, addresses prevention efforts around spouse, child and elder abuse. Last fall, the prevention coalition offered a two-day STOP Grant funded multidisciplinary training to sensitize a wide range of community professionals on domestic violence issues.

Outreach to underserved victims . The Family Place works with community-based programs to tailor services and programs to meet the needs of victims from under-served populations (see below).

  • A number of the Family Place staff are Spanish-speaking and informed about the concerns of immigrant battered women. They offer the full range of group and individual victim services. They refer to and work closely with Projecto Adelante, a program for women with immigration issues (e.g., self-petitioning under the Violence Against Women Act).

  • The Family Place also has established two satellite offices, offering counseling services, located in predominantly African-American neighborhoods. Women from these neighborhoods are hired part-time and trained as peer professionals to provide public education, referral and advocacy.

  • The Family Place collaborates with the East Dallas Counseling Center to provide services for Asian victims.

When clients at Projecto Adelante and East Dallas Counseling Center require shelter services, these programs make referrals to the Family Place.

Soaring Eagles Coordinated Community Response Team

Lac du Flambeau Band of Superior Chippewa Indians and Vilas County, Wisconsin

Highlighted Feature: Developing a Coordinated Response Between Tribal and County Agencies

Contact the STOP T.A. Project for more information.

Phone: 800-256-5883 Fax: 202-265-0579 e-mail: STOPGrants_TA_Project@csgi.com

Overview and Mission

The Soaring Eagles Coordinated Community Response Team (CCR Team) works to ensure effective intervention in domestic violence cases by the criminal justice system, community-based victim services, and other government agencies in Vilas County and the Lac du Flambeau Indian Reservation. In order to be effective, the response must be consistent and coordinated with a focus on the safety of victims. The State of Wisconsin awarded the Lac du Flambeau Indian Reservation a STOP grant for the CCR Team project.

Demographics

Vilas County is located in North Central Wisconsin and has 16,535 residents; of this population, 1,328 are tribal members of the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians. The Lac du Flambeau Indian reservation is located in the southwestern corner of Vilas County.

Vilas County is a rural area with no mass transportation. Many residents of the county and the reservation do not have telephone service and 911 is not available in all areas. Two hospitals and four law enforcement agencies serve the county.

Two community-based domestic violence and sexual assault programs provide services to victims and survivors:

  • the Lac du Flambeau Domestic Abuse Program (which serves primarily Native Americans on the reservation, as well as victims from other Wisconsin Tribes); and

  • the Vilas County Outreach Office of the Tri-County Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (TCCDVSA), which serves primarily non-Native American victims.

Description of Response

Recognition of the need for coordination . The Lac du Flambeau reservation and Vilas County maintain separate law enforcement, prosecutors' offices, and courts, as well as social services and community-based services to victims/survivors. Prior to the development of the CCR Team, these separate systems often overlapped, but did not always communicate effectively.

For example, the Lac du Flambeau tribal police and prosecutors have civil jurisdiction only. Tribal police can make arrests of domestic violence offenders pursuant to its domestic abuse ordinance, which incorporates the Vilas County Domestic Abuse Mandatory Arrest Policy. Lac du Flambeau Tribal Police do not have a holding facility; therefore, defendants are transported to the Vilas County Jail. When needed, the Vilas County Sheriff's Department will assist tribal police in arresting and transporting offenders. Due to the long distance between the reservation and the sheriff's department, Lac du Flambeau victims have had a difficult time learning about the case status of the offender.

Data collected in 1995 by the Lac du Flambeau Domestic Abuse Program and TCCDVSA revealed a disparity between the number of crisis calls and other services provided to victims and the number of arrests made by both the Lac du Flambeau Tribal Police Department and the Vilas County Sheriff's Department. For example, 412 crisis calls were made to the Lac du Flambeau Domestic Abuse Program in 1995, but only 98 arrests were made by the tribal police department. TCCDVSA received 1,308 crisis calls, but only 127 arrests were made. These statistics emphasized the need for better coordination between and within the two jurisdictions.

In order to hold domestic violence offenders accountable to their community, the jurisdictions of Vilas County and Lac du Flambeau would have to establish effective mechanisms for communication. A Vilas County Circuit Judge convened a multi-disciplinary group of Vilas County and Lac du Flambeau justice systems and community-based victim service representatives, to discuss the development of a coordinated team approach to domestic violence for Vilas County.

Since then, the CCR Team has:

  • met regularly;

  • formed a number of sub-committees to focus on specific issues;

  • received STOP Grant funding to support its work; and

  • expanded to include both tribal and county representatives of other disciplines, such as probation, prosecution, victim/witness staff, clerks of courts, counselors, medical providers (including emergency room staff), social services, child welfare, and educational institutions.

Staff hired to coordinate the CCR Team . To centralize the task of coordinating the CCR Team, a half-time staff person was hired. The CCR coordinator, who is also the half-time law enforcement liaison for the Lac du Flambeau Domestic Abuse Program, has numerous duties including:

  • recruiting survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault to the CCR Team;

  • promoting and coordinating CCR Team meetings among agencies;

  • facilitating cross-training and promoting enhancement of inter-agency communication;

  • assisting agencies in the development of policies and procedures;

  • developing written agreements or memoranda of understanding among agencies;

  • assisting with the development of a uniform data system to include information on perpetrators' criminal history;

  • developing materials to inform and educate the community and CCR Team; and

  • reporting activities to the State Office of Justice Programs.

Evaluation component of the project . At the outset of the project, the CCR Team distributed pre-project surveys to be completed by service providers. The surveys provided the basis for an initial assessment of the level of coordinated response to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. The results of the survey were used to guide the CCR Team in setting priorities among their objectives. A post-project survey will be distributed to the same service providers to measure the changes that occurred between the beginning and end of the project period.

Development of an action plan . The CCR Team's Subcommittee on Functioning and Membership was assigned the task of identifying the most pressing issues for Vilas County and the LDF reservation. The issues identified included:

  • improving coordination of tribal and non-tribal response to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault;

  • developing a multidisciplinary response to domestic violence and sexual assault that focuses on the personal safety of victims and perpetrator accountability;

  • enhancing inter-agency communication;

  • developing inter-agency written agreements or memoranda of understanding;

  • providing cross-disciplinary training on domestic violence and sexual assault;

  • revising and/or developing standardized procedures relating to domestic violence and sexual assault;

  • educating the public on domestic violence and sexual assault and available services; and

  • educating the CCR Team members about the necessity of holding perpetrators accountable for their behaviors.

The other subcommittees created by the CCR Team to work towards these identified objectives are:

  • Public Relations;

  • Resource Directory;

  • Services to Victims and Batterers' Intervention;

  • Community Education and Trainings; and

  • Criminal Justice System Response.

Each sub-committee is composed of both Native American and non-Native American service providers or criminal justice representatives.

Regular communications with community agencies . In order to keep open the lines of communication among the agencies in the community, the CCR coordinator makes regular contact with representatives from all relevant agencies and organizations, including:

  • judges from both Vilas County and Lac du Flambeau;

  • tribal and non-tribal prosecutors, law enforcement and probation and parole officers;

  • human services personnel;

  • medical professionals; and

  • teachers.

The coordinator frequently travels to agencies to communicate with staff that are either participating in the CCR Team or that the CCR Team would like to recruit, such as additional tribal judges and social service providers. Follow-up contact with these agencies and individuals is made with phone calls and faxes.

The coordinator has found that these visits and phone calls help maintain interest in the CCR Team and provide opportunities to talk informally about the progress and pitfalls members may be experiencing. The Coordinator also regularly contacts those agencies that have not regularly attended CCR Team meetings and makes clear that their participation is welcome and needed by the community in order to plan for and implement a truly coordinated response.

Cross-training by CCR Team members . The CCR Team has conducted cross-training on issues related to sexual assault and domestic violence crimes, as well as the roles each discipline plays in violence against women cases. Team members are expected to pass along the information and materials to colleagues at their respective agencies. Training sessions have included presentations by law enforcement on evidence collection, and education by victim advocates on crisis counseling and making appropriate referrals. A training program on "Domestic Violence in the Workplace" is planned for the spring of 1998.

Development of cooperative agreements . Each agency and organization participating in the CCR Team has signed a community-wide cooperative agreement. The agreement states that the agency is committed to the goals of:

  • coordinating inter-agency domestic violence services;

  • ensuring exemplary standards of practice in responding to this crime;

  • educating the public about domestic violence;

  • articulating agency roles and responsibilities within Vilas County and the Lac du Flambeau Reservation; and

  • providing appropriate training for service providers on domestic violence and sexual assault.

In addition, individualized agreements or memoranda of understanding have been developed among specific agencies and organizations. These agreements define specific protocols, policies, and procedures for handling domestic violence cases within agencies and outline processes for sharing information with one another.

Law enforcement and prosecution representatives have already begun to define ways they can coordinate to achieve successful case outcomes. For example, the Vilas County District Attorney's Office has created status report forms that are sent to Lac du Flambeau and Vilas County law enforcement agencies. The forms provide a vehicle for these agencies to:

  • share updates on case progress;

  • indicate what additional evidence or information is required; and

  • specify when evidence or information is needed.

Law enforcement agencies are working to improve evidence collection techniques through technology such as instant cameras and analysis of blood-spattering. These efforts have already served to facilitate the coordination of domestic violence investigations and prosecutions among tribal and county agencies, thus strengthening the criminal justice response to residents of the Lac du Flambeau Reservation and Vilas County.

The multidisciplinary team approach to domestic violence services has strengthened the communication between Lac du Flambeau tribal service providers and the Vilas County service providers. It has fostered a unified vision of holding batterers accountable for their actions, and protecting victims of domestic and sexual violence through comprehensive services.

The North Dakota Council on Abused Women's Services, and the Montana and Wyoming Coalitions Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault

North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming

Highlighted Feature: Tri-State Rural Collaboration Project

Contact the STOP T.A. Project for more information.

Phone: 800-256-5883 Fax: 202-265-0579 e-mail: STOPGrants_TA_Project@csgi.com

Overview and Mission

The Tri-State Rural Collaboration Project is a regional effort among the State Domestic Violence Coalitions in North Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana. A recipient of a Rural Domestic Violence and Child Victimization Grant, the Tri-State Project was developed to:

  • build networking relationships;

  • develop culturally and geographically-specific resources;

  • provide training and technical assistance to rural, remote, and reservation communities; and

  • provide opportunities to explore strengths and weaknesses, and similarities and differences in service delivery to populations across States.

The Tri-State Project is intended to strengthen ties among groups with whom working relationships already exist, and to search out new groups and community members that can be integrated into a coordinated response to domestic violence on the local, State and regional level.

Demographics

The Tri-State Project encompasses vast rural and remote areas Remote areas are defined by the U.S. Government as counties in which there are fewer than six persons per square mile. . Thirty-nine domestic violence programs in rural/remote areas and twelve reservation programs are located within the project service area. The State of North Dakota covers 70,665 miles, with a population of approximately 600,000; Montana spans 145,392 miles and is populated by approximately 850,000 people; and Wyoming encompasses 97,914 miles, with close to 450,000 residents. The twelve Indian reservations that are within these three States' borders are located in some of the most remote areas of the States.

Description of Response

Coordination among Coalitions and their member organizations . The concept for the project emerged from conversations among the State domestic violence coalitions. Staff discussed the similarities and differences within service delivery models among the States, and the unique needs of domestic violence victims living on reservations and rural/remote areas. The coalitions believed that victims in the tri-state area share many of the same needs. They realized that by coordinating their efforts, they could provide more comprehensive training and technical assistance to domestic violence programs, and expand their outreach to these communities.

The Tri-State Project hired three Native American resource developers and three Rural resource developers (one of each is assigned to each of the three States) to provide outreach, training, and technical assistance to community-based domestic violence victim service providers and other agencies and interested community members. The resource developers are supervised by a steering committee, comprised of the executive directors of the Coalitions.

Resource developers work with the unique needs of programs . The first objective of the Tri-State Project was to understand the specific strengths, needs, barriers and issues of each victim service program. The Resource Developers sought to establish trust between themselves and the programs. Initially, the resource developers made site visits to all programs. The developers listened closely to the concerns of program staff and made observations about the program and the community at-large.

For those staff working with Native American communities, this process took a slightly different form. Establishing trust was even more critical. Native American programs wanted assurances that the developers intended to work with their communities on a long-term basis. Developers made a number of initial visits to each reservation to demonstrate their commitment. Wyoming's Native American resource developer began living on the State's one reservation in order to become more accessible to the community.

The structure of each Tribe's justice and social service systems is unique, so the developers were required to become familiar with each reservation's governing structure. They learned how each domestic violence program fit into the community, from the perspective of functioning and funding. For example, some domestic violence programs are independent, tax-exempt organizations, while others are directly linked to the tribal government.

Training and technical assistance . The Tri-State Project developed a number of training programs in response to the comments from the communities. For example, the numerous barriers battered women faced in obtaining appropriate services were discouraging to many service providers, especially those on reservations. In response, the project developed a "Creative Problem-Solving" training workshop to help program staff learn techniques for overcoming barriers.

The upcoming Tri-State Rural Conference sponsored by the Tri-State Project will focus on issues of concern to rural/remote and reservation service providers. The agenda will include sessions on:

  • community relationship building in rural/remote areas;

  • full faith and credit issues;

  • funding strategies for rural and remote programs; and

  • community organizing with a Native American focus.

The Tri-State Project is offering scholarships to underwrite the costs of attendance for local programs.

The resource developers also provide ongoing hands-on technical assistance to the local programs. The Rural and the Native American resource developers have separate bi-weekly conference calls with the project's Steering Committee. These calls provide opportunities to share issues and innovative strategies with one another. In one instance, a developer learned how one domestic violence program was reaching out to women in rural/remote communities by driving a grain truck to farms and picking up donated grain to raise funds for a rural program.

The Tri-State Project publishes a newsletter circulated to all programs served by the project and other interested community members. The newsletter contains information and program ideas to enhance the work of service providers. One column outlines special issues faced by battered women living in rural areas, and another provides pointers on how to work with the local newspaper to educate the public about domestic violence.

Development of informal local networks to fill in service gaps . Throughout the Tri-State area, community members provide assistance to victims in remote areas that do not have easy access to community-based programs. Many teachers, social workers, clergy, health care providers and cosmetologists have established informal networks for identifying and assisting victims of domestic or sexual violence.

The resource developers organized a series of focus groups to learn what these "first identifiers" were already doing to provide assistance to victims in their communities, and what kind of support they needed to help victims more effectively. Project staff compiled the information obtained through focus groups into a number of guidebooks. Each guidebook contains general information about domestic violence, as well as information geared to the following professions:

  • The clergy booklet and resource packet includes a comprehensive bibliography of resources that address the clergy's role in prevention, education, and intervention in domestic violence, and a booklet detailing recommended clergy responses for rural religious communities.

  • The booklet for cosmetologists identifies the unique role that rural hairstylists often play as listeners and resource people, and suggests responses to both victims and perpetrators of domestic violence (who may occupy the same stylist's chair at different times).

  • The social worker's guidebook suggests screening questions, provides information about the impact of domestic violence on children, discusses the importance of safety planning, and identifies available legal remedies.

  • The educator's guidebook provides information about the impact of domestic violence on child witnesses and how to respond appropriately to their needs.

Oglala Lakota Nation, Oglala Sioux Tribe, and Cangleska, Inc.Oglala Lakota Nation, Oglala Sioux Tribe, and Cangleska, Inc.Oglala Lakota Nation, Oglala Sioux Tribe, and Cangleska, Inc.

South Dakota

Highlighted Feature: Collaborative Development of Standardized Tribal Law Enforcement Response to Domestic Violence

Contact the STOP T.A. Project for more information.

Phone: 800-256-5883 Fax: 202-265-0579 e-mail: STOPGrants_TA_Project@csgi.com

Mission and Overview

The Oglala Sioux Tribe and Cangleska, Inc., partnered to design and provide comprehensive prevention and intervention services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in South Dakota. The philosophy utilized in the development of services is based on the belief that violence against native women is contradictory to Lakota (Sioux) ways of life. The goals of the partnership between the Oglala Sioux Tribe and Cangleska, Inc., are threefold: (1) safety of victims; (2) accountability of offenders; and (3) accountability of tribal systems and institutions responding to Oglala women who are battered and their children.

Demographics

The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, home of the Oglala Lakota Nation, is in the southwestern corner of the State. The Pine Ridge Reservation encompasses 2.7 million acres of land and spans three counties, with a population of 34,800 people and a median age of 18.3 years. The reservation contains the poorest county in the U.S., with an average annual income of less than $4,000. Alcoholism and unemployment rates are estimated at 85 percent. Approximately 60 percent of families on the Pine Ridge Reservation are single female head of household, and 40 percent are native Lakota speakers. Fewer than 40 percent of tribal members have completed a 12th grade education, and the average reading level is at the sixth grade level.

The reservation contains two tribal courts. The tribe's law enforcement agency, the Department of Public Safety, is decentralized, with 106 officers working out of nine sub-stations (one in each district). Detention facilities are located in western and eastern areas of the reservation.

Description of Program Response

Analysis of Oglala Sioux Tribe response to domestic violence . Cangleska, Inc. worked in cooperation with the judiciary and health and human services committees of the tribal council, the Oglala Sioux Tribe Department of Public Safety, and the Oglala Sioux Tribe (OST) courts to assess the availability of services and support for battered women and their children and the existence and effectiveness of sanctions for offenders. From the data gathered by all agencies, a development plan began to emerge that was designed to meet the safety needs of Oglala battered women and their children while holding offenders accountable for their violence.

Partnership with other agencies . The primary agencies instrumental in the implementation of this project are Cangleska, Inc., the Department of Public Safety, and the Oglala Sioux Tribal Courts.

Advocacy program is the lead organization in the collaboration . Cangleska, Inc., a program that provides services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, is the primary monitoring agency, and oversees the development of domestic violence policy, procedure, and protocol for the tribe's criminal justice system. Cangleska has been awarded a STOP Violence Against Indian Women Grant to support its work.

Cangleska has developed four components designed to serve an underserved and rural population. These four components are: (1) shelter; (2) outreach advocacy, (3) domestic violence offender probation; and (4) systems monitoring. Three Oglala tribal members function as a management team and are responsible for ensuring that all program activities are developed from a foundation of Lakota culture and philosophy that values women.

Direct services developed . In March of 1997, Cangleska opened shelter, outreach, and probation departments. All Cangleska staff participated in a three-week training institute to enhance employee skills and maximize coordination among Cangleska's departments. The shelter, located in Kyle (eastern reservation), housed 353 women and children between March and December of 1997. Outreach advocates, located in Pine Ridge (western reservation) assisted over 500 women. The probation department currently monitors 1100 offenders who are required to participate in offenders' re-education classes and any other rehabilitation efforts deemed appropriate by probation officers. Offenders classes are held in Kyle and Pine Ridge at the tribal courthouses.

According to tribal law, arrest reports are forwarded daily to Cangleska. Offenders must be interviewed by an advocate prior to arraignment. Reports are reviewed for law enforcement's adherence to policy, and any inappropriate response is reported to the appropriate supervisor. Individual officers are monitored for patterns of response that might result in the re-victimization of women who are battered.

While the Oglala Sioux Tribe has a domestic violence code in place (enacted in 1987), Cangleska has developed a model tribal code consisting of seven chapters, including full faith and credit provisions, stalking, and firearm chapters. The code is being reviewed by the legislature.

Cangleska coordinates sharing of information . Statistical data on domestic violence cases is gathered manually by Cangleska staff, since no computerized system exists for domestic violence cases in the Department of Public Safety or the courts. Cangleska has instituted a manual collection system for registering orders for protection; the list is faxed to the two law enforcement dispatch centers for patrol officer reference. In addition, lists of probationers are available to the two tribal jails. Referrals are made by jailers to Cangleska in the event a probationer is jailed for a domestic violence offense or any other offense. A long-term technology plan has been developed to implement the eventual computerization and linking of all systems.

Law enforcement works closely with Cangleska . The Oglala Sioux Tribe operates its own independent criminal justice system, which includes law enforcement and judicial agencies.

The Department of Public Safety requested that Cangleska work with them to develop the department's policies and protocols for responding to domestic violence calls. These policies have been formulated and are being reviewed by the public safety system for passage. Policies include protocols for responding to officers who batter.

The Department of Public Safety has created a training center in an effort to enhance the skills of patrol officers and offer solutions to the problem of high officer turnover. Cangleska developed a 40-hour training agenda for the domestic violence track, and a policy agreement with public safety that no changes to the agenda will be made without consultation with Cangleska. Under the Oglala Sioux code, officers are required to receive 40 hours of training on domestic violence annually.

In February 1997, all Cangleska personnel and virtually all of the 106 law enforcement officers, including dispatch and jailers, participated in a training conducted by the founder of the San Diego Police Department's Domestic Violence Unit. Cangleska requested specific training on identifying the primary aggressor because the dual arrest rate reached 10 percent in 1996; after the training, the rate dropped to 2 percent.

Initially, Cangleska personnel met routinely with public safety administration and district lieutenants. The need to meet regularly decreased as the cooperative nature of the relationship between Cangleska and public safety developed, and officers have become better-trained and the overall response has improved.

Cangleska works with the courts to develop policies . The Oglala Sioux Tribe operates two court systems: one in Kyle (eastern reservation) and another in Pine Ridge (western reservation). Four judges arraigned 12,760 adults in 1997. Sixty-eight percent of all criminal court dispositions were for domestic violence crimes. Approximately 40 percent of the civil court docket is related to domestic violence, including orders for protection, divorce, and child custody.

Cangleska and the tribal courts collaborated to develop policies regarding orders for protection. These include the use of new court forms that provide for firearms and full faith and credit provisions of the Violence Against Women Act. A procedure outlining the prosecution and court processes for revocation of domestic violence probation have been formulated and implemented.

No task force, council, or coordinating committee was formed throughout this process. Cangleska acted as the lead agency during the development process; it was the "broker," and determined when it was necessary for all parties and departments to meet, and when it was more appropriate for Cangleska to meet with only one department. This approach minimized negative politics and finger-pointing.

The implementation of a coordinated community response has energized the response of the criminal justice system. A coordinating and monitoring agency provides the framework for responsible and professional response. As one council representative commented, "In traditional Lakota culture, women and children are sacred. We are sending a message that violence against Oglala women is not traditional and will not be tolerated."

Santa Clara County Domestic Violence CouncilSanta Clara County Domestic Violence Council

Santa Clara County, CA

Highlighted Feature: Council Coordinated Community Response

Contact the STOP T.A. Project for more information.

Phone: 800-256-5883 Fax: 202-265-0579 e-mail: STOPGrants_TA_Project@csgi.com

Overview and Mission

The Santa Clara County Domestic Violence Council formed in 1991, upon recommendations from a domestic violence task force and in response to the domestic violence task force's belief that all agencies, courts and community members must play their part in ending domestic violence. The council creates a vehicle through which the justice system, social services, law enforcement and others in the community can respond effectively to family violence.

The purpose of this multidisciplinary council is to coordinate the response of diverse agencies, departments and the courts to victims of domestic violence and abuse. The council promotes effective prevention, intervention, and treatment techniques, based upon research and data collection.

Demographics

Santa Clara County is a mid-size county in California with a population of 1,449,577 residents. The largest city within the county is San Jose. According to the 1990 census, 1,032,190 of county residents are white, 261,466 are Asian, 56,211 are black, and 9,269 are American Indian. Approximately 138,441 residents classify themselves outside the listed categories.

Description of Program Response

Diverse and comprehensive membership . Over 20 organizations belong to the domestic violence council, which is chaired by the elected district attorney. The involved organizations send one representative to the domestic violence council. These representatives have the power to enact policy in their respective organizations. The following organizations and individuals participate in the domestic violence council:

  • law enforcement departments;

  • the district attorney's office;

  • the court system (including municipal and superior courts);

  • battered women's shelters;

  • batterer's treatment programs;

  • pre-trial release services;

  • the bar association;

  • the public defender's office;

  • legal aid organizations;

  • social service organizations;

  • the probation office;

  • individuals with research specialization;

  • Santa Clara Commission on the Status of Women;

  • the State legislature;

  • elder abuse services; and

  • the gay and lesbian community.

There are five members appointed from the public-at-large.

Regular organized meetings . The domestic violence council meets at least eight times a year. The meetings are open to the public and interested parties can address the council about issues related to domestic violence. Council member organizations or others make presentations on the council's efforts on particular projects. The domestic violence council makes recommendations to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, agencies, departments and the courts regarding improving their responses to domestic violence. As required by the Santa Clara Board of Supervisors, the council develops a yearly work plan that identifies its goals and the areas in need of immediate attention.

At this time, the council has no dedicated support staff. The council by-laws state that the Clerk of the County Board of Supervisors is responsible for providing secretarial assistance to the council Otherwise, individual member organizations contribute administrative support on a voluntary basis.

Working committees . The council has formed working committees to identify and help implement its goals. Individuals who are not members of the council are invited to participate in the committees, thus encouraging greater community involvement. These committees generally include as many non-council members as council members. Current committees focus on the following subject areas:

  • court systems;

  • community education;

  • data collection;

  • legislation;

  • police/victim relations;

  • death review;

  • social services;

  • executive;

  • housing;

  • victim;

  • medical;

  • batterers' intervention;

  • victim/survivor advocacy;

  • workplace violence; and

  • children's issues.

Each committee meets monthly. The committees develop and maintain a work plan, subject to approval by the council, which guides the work of the committee. The committees also receive project suggestions from the council. The committees have worked to enhance the community response within the county.

A sampling of the committee activities and successes are listed below.

Education Committee. Over the past several years, the community education committee has held two county-wide domestic violence conferences. One conference focused on domestic violence in the Latino community and the other focused on violence in the gay and lesbian community. In conjunction with the Mid-Peninsula Support Network, the council coordinates outreach to teens and juvenile facilities. The committee organized a speakers bureau that has conducted one speaking event to interested community groups each week for several years. In addition, this committee has sponsored trainings for judges, probation officers, social workers and law enforcement officers.

Medical Committee. This committee has developed a protocol for healthcare providers in the county. The protocol explains the legal duties of all healthcare providers related to reporting acts of domestic violence they discover in their interactions with patients. It also recommends to healthcare providers approaches for treating potential victims of domestic violence. The committee developed a training curriculum to instruct county healthcare providers on policy implementation.

Court Systems Committee. The court systems committee developed a training tape that describes how emergency protection orders function. The tape has been shown to all county law enforcement agencies and has led to a significant increase in the use of emergency protective orders.

The court systems committee also encouraged and supported the creation of a domestic violence unit in the Santa Clara District Attorney's Office. Since its creation, the unit has grown to four attorneys and one full-time paralegal.

The committee organizes monthly meetings for all participants in the court system in order to coordinate domestic violence cases that appear in different court settings simultaneously. This meeting has been particularly important for the coordination of cases that appear in criminal, family and juvenile courts. The committee and the council enjoy active participation from local judges.

Death Review Committee. The death review committee was established in an effort to respond to domestic homicides that occurred in the county. The committee is comprised of members from the courts, corrections, victim services, social services and law enforcement disciplines, as well as interested members of the public. The primary goal of the committee is to review the homicides in order to determine if there are ways that the systems and services available could be improved to prevent future incidents.

The committee has a confidentiality policy, requiring those who participate in meetings to sign a form agreeing to keep information discussed confidential. Even the resulting reports are written with the utmost respect for individual's confidentiality. In 1996, legislation was passed which makes it clear that all death review committee discussions are not discoverable by defense counsel or others.

Since the formation of the domestic violence council, the number of reported cases of domestic violence cases in Santa Clara County has increased sharply. The council views this data as an encouraging sign of an increased community awareness of the availability of services for battered women and children, as well as an understanding that the crime of domestic violence is taken seriously by the justice system.

Victim Services of Dodge, Fillmore, and Olmsted County

Three Communities in Minnesota

Highlighted Feature: Development of a Model Protocol for a Coordinated Community Response to Sexual Assault

Contact the STOP T.A. Project for more information.

Phone: 800-256-5883 Fax: 202-265-0579 e-mail: STOPGrants_TA_Project@csgi.com

Overview and Mission

Victim Services of Dodge, Fillmore and Olmsted Counties is a comprehensive sexual assault and general crime victim advocacy program. With support from a STOP grant, the program has assigned full-time co-directors to the Statewide Model Sexual Assault Response Protocol Development Project. The project established a three-stage process for improving the criminal justice system's response to sexual assault victims/survivors through a model protocol:

  • the first stage involved gathering information to develop a draft of a model protocol;

  • stage two, the current stage of the project, focuses on working with three test-site communities (the "Test Site Project") to develop a multidisciplinary, victim-centered protocol specific to the needs of each community; and

  • stage three will use the information learned in the test site project to revise the current draft of the model protocol, and take additional steps to adapt and use statewide.

A central tenet of the project is that the quality of case investigation and prosecution is inextricably linked to the quality of the system's response to sexual assault victim/survivors. The project has hired independent evaluators to help gauge progress and test this assumption.

Description of Response

Philosophy of protocol development . The project is framed by the belief that a model protocol should be adaptable and responsive to the needs of a given community. Therefore, the focus of the protocol is on helping participating agencies organize around a common goal related to sexual assault response and develop an infrastructure that will implement policies consistent with that goal. While the project promotes a shift in the criminal justice system response from focusing on "the case" to being mindful and recognizing the centrality of the victim, it will give participants the flexibility to determine how best to accomplish this shift.

Co-Directors Etrulia Calvert and Laura Williams stress the importance of developing a protocol that defines a standard and at the same time allows for variation due to local differences. Williams explains that "the system needs to be adaptable to best serve victims. We need people in each discipline to think for themselves about how they will achieve the agreed upon standards," particularly given the changing nature of the information and technology surrounding the criminal justice system response to sexual assault.

Statewide model protocol . The project is using multiple methods to solicit a broad range of input for the protocol. Discussions with advocacy groups were held to determine what kind of input they should seek. Following these, public hearings were held, as well as meetings with multi-disciplinary groups asking them what was needed to make the specific system they represented more responsive. Focus groups with survivors were organized, including groups for women of color, deaf and hard-of-hearing women, rural women, college women, and incarcerated women.

A Statewide advisory board has been charged with developing the protocol based on the recommendations from the meetings and hearings, lessons from the test site project, and their own expertise. A draft of the model protocol was created at the end of the project's first stage. This draft will undergo revisions throughout the next two years of the project.

Facilitation of local coordination . Three counties were selected to serve as test sites for the protocol development process. One county is a suburb in the metro area of the Twin Cities. The other two counties are predominantly rural areas with a majority white population and small populations of communities of color. The project is currently in the process of adding an urban site with a focus on communities of color.

While the sites are not testing a model protocol, they are testing a process for creating victim-centered protocol that will coordinate the work of the many agencies involved in responding to sexual assault (see "Attention to process of coordination" below). The experience of the test sites will be used to inform the development the model protocol. One representative from each site has joined the advisory board.

  1. Coordinating structure. To qualify as a test site, communities had to convene a multidisciplinary Sexual Assault Interagency Council (SAIC). At a minimum, the following four disciplines were required to co-sponsor the project by allocating their respective agencies' staff time and resources:

    • health care;

    • victim advocacy;

    • law enforcement; and

    • prosecution.

    Most sites have added other disciplines to the council, including mental or public health agencies, social services agencies, colleges and universities, and agencies serving cultural or racial minority populations.

    Each SAIC was also required to appoint a coordinator, the only person who receives compensation from the grant for participation in the project. Up to this point, the site coordinators have been half-time positions, but some sites have sought additional funding and may increase the position to three-quarter or full-time. In two of the sites, experienced victim advocates were hired as site coordinators. The third site hired a paralegal to coordinate the project.

    The SAICs in each site include ten to 20 people. At least two law enforcement agencies are represented on the SAIC in each site. All law enforcement agencies in the test site areas were invited to join the project. In some cases, those agencies that did not join at the beginning have shown interest, as their local SAIC gained momentum.

  2. Attention to the process of coordination. Each test site is following an eight-step protocol development "cycle" to adapt, implement, and evaluate the protocol. This process is largely based upon strategies developed at the national level for the National Victim Center's "Looking Back, Moving Forward: Communities Responding to Sexual Assault" project and documented in the book Improving Community Response to Crime Victims: An Eight-Step Model for Developing Protocol (Boles and Patterson, Sage 1997).

    At the beginning of the grant period (which extends from October 1997 - June 1999), the project convened a meeting where the SAICs were trained by the individuals who developed the eight-step protocol development process. Briefly, the eight-step cycle contains the following steps:

    1. do inventory of existing services;

    2. conduct a victim experience survey;

    3. assess community needs;

    4. write or adapt protocol;

    5. re-new or establish inter-agency agreements;

    6. train personnel;

    7. monitor policy compliance; and

    8. evaluate policy effectiveness.

    An objective of each step of the process is to identify the characteristics of a coordinated response to sexual assault victim/survivors. Through the experience of the test site SAICs the project seeks to learn what motivates communities to improve their response to sexual assault.

    One of the strengths of the project is that all SAIC members participate in the stages of the protocol development cycle. This unites them in their goals, and helps foster big picture thinking. Currently, most of the SAICs have reached the second step of the cycle.

Technical assistance to test sites . The SAICs are receiving extensive support from the project. The support differs from site to site, since the sites are encouraged to organize the work in ways most relevant to them. The co-directors meet monthly with site coordinators, and attend each site's SAIC meetings. Two of the SAICs meet at least monthly, with their subcommittees meeting more frequently.

The project calls for training and hold meetings in response to the perceived needs of the individual SAICs. For example, the project has encouraged all of the SAICs to involve representatives from underserved populations of victims in their communities. They may do this by appointing to the SAIC someone who represents a given perspective or they may form advisory councils for women of color in the community.

To facilitate learning among the sites and to raise awareness across the state, the project started a bi-monthly newsletter called "The Link", which profiles progress and technical assistance issues. In addition, the co-directors spend considerable time on the phone with site coordinators and other project constituents to help address issues as they arise and maintain momentum. Issues range from fostering collaborations among participating agencies to conducting public hearings and using consultants at key points in the process.

Evaluation and preparation for statewide distribution . At this time, the plan for revising and distributing the model protocol includes incorporating the results of an independent evaluation of the Test Site Project. A comprehensive evaluation plan was developed with independent evaluators to address the following questions:

  • Does a victim-centered approach to reports of sexual assault improve case outcomes and the functioning of the criminal justice system?

  • What strategies did the test sites use to move from a case-centered system to a victim centered one? Which of the strategies were most successful?

  • How do multidisciplinary, victim-centered protocols affect how cases are handled?

The evaluators share information they have learned throughout their research with project co-directors. A final evaluation report is not anticipated until FY 2000, in stage three of the project. With the results of the evaluation, the draft model protocol will be revised and distributed.

Based on learning from the Test Site Project, the statewide advisory board will develop recommendations for further action to increase awareness in other communities about the project strategy and model protocol. For example, one anticipated initiative would train multidisciplinary teams to work with other Minnesota communities who are interested in adopting the model protocol.

Women's Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Highlighted Feature: Comprehensive Community Response to Domestic Violence

Contact the STOP T.A. Project for more information.

Phone: 800-256-5883 Fax: 202-265-0579 e-mail: STOPGrants_TA_Project@csgi.com

Overview and Mission

The Women's Center & Shelter (WC&S) was founded in 1974. The WC&S is a leader in the development of innovative, effective intervention and prevention programs for victims of intimate partner violence.

The WC&S programs are based on a belief that the causes of intimate partner violence stem from the batterer's need to control his partner. All issues are viewed from the larger societal context. Perpetrators are held accountable for their actions without blaming the victim. Peer counselors offer victims understanding, information, support, and advocacy services.

The programs of the WC&S focus on the ability of women to take control of their own lives. Staff educates battered women on all options available to them. The WC&S provides individual and systems advocacy to improve the response of institutions and agencies with which battered women interact. Judges, attorneys, and law enforcement, child protective services, public schools, and local hospitals have worked with the WC&S to respond to domestic violence at the community level.

Demographics

The WC&S serves Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, and surrounding areas. Pittsburgh is an urban area with 87,455 families and a population of 369,879. Of these, 96,169 are African-American. The city is characterized by a mix of ethnic neighborhoods: 67 percent white; 26 percent African-American; 2 percent Asian-American; and 5 percent from other cultural origins. Fifty-four percent of the city's residents are female and 46 percent are male. The median household income is $20,747.

Description of Response

Comprehensive victim services. The WC&S maintains a 24-hour hotline that utilizes a triage system through which victims needing immediate assistance are referred to the shelter and resident counseling centers. The WC&S also offers:

  • case management;

  • individual counseling;

  • support groups;

  • medical exams;

  • substance abuse information and referral;

  • mental health intervention;

  • parenting education;

  • employment readiness; and

  • individual advocacy on legal, medical, housing, and financial issues.

A follow-up program for former shelter residents provides a continuum of support and services for women. Child care services are provided to residents, non-residents and follow-up participants.

The WC&S collaborates with local child protective services by providing training to caseworkers on identification and intervention for intimate partner violence in families when both the mother and children are victimized. The WC&S advocates work on-site at local child protection agencies to provide consultation and crisis intervention.

Foundation for coordinated response . Since its inception, the WC&S has worked to increase domestic violence awareness and build partnerships through collaboration with criminal justice system agencies and other organizations.

The WC&S formed the Domestic Violence Task Force in 1988 to promote an improved response to intimate partner violence in Pittsburgh. The task force is composed of representatives of the law enforcement agencies and district attorneys' offices, family courts, the probation department, and victim service agencies. Its primary work is to monitor and evaluate system efforts to serve battered women. The task force has divided itself into separate committees to work on specific projects. At least one WC&S staff member sits on each committee to ensure a focus on victim needs.

The task force meets four times a year. The WC&S develops meeting agendas, sets meeting dates, and provides the food for meetings. To accommodate the growing workload of the task force, the WC&S funds a full-time paid staff person to coordinate the meetings.

Involvement of medical community . Recognizing that the first (and sometimes only) contact some battered women have with public services is with hospital emergency rooms, the WC&S developed medical advocacy projects located in two city hospitals. An on-site medical advocate works directly with the hospital staff and victims treated at the hospital. The advocate provides the victim with referrals to local shelters and information on counseling services.

In 1996, the WC&S medical advocacy project at Mercy Hospital was named one of the top ten hospital-based domestic violence programs in the nation by the Family Violence Prevention Fund.

WC&S staff provides training to all area hospitals on how to create medical advocacy projects and conduct patient screening for domestic violence.

The Pro Bono Mental Health Project matches therapists with children who are receiving services from the WC&S and other local shelters. The volunteer therapists provide counseling and support to children who have witnessed and experienced domestic violence in their lives.

Collaboration with schools . In 1997, the Pittsburgh Public Schools contracted with the WC&S to provide immediate crisis response and assessment for students who have witnessed domestic violence or are violent themselves. This partnership marked a recognition by the community of the significant connection between student behavior and family violence.

Advocates and domestic violence trainers facilitate discussions and workshops in the schools using the "Hands are Not for Hurting" curriculum, which was developed by the WC&S. The curriculum includes age-appropriate lessons that teach youth that they are responsible for the choices they make and aims to teach students how to resolve conflicts non-violently. Each age component of the curriculum includes:

  • school personnel training;

  • parent workshops; and

  • classroom presentations, discussion groups, and support groups.

During 1997, the WC&S reached 21,395 students through 1,658 education and training programs to community groups and schools. Pre- and post-test surveys indicated that student awareness increased after participation in the programs. In the four elementary schools reached, there was a 14.2 percent increase in awareness, and in the 14 high schools there was a 23 percent increase.

The WC & S was recently selected to receive a federal grant from the Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families to expand the "Hands are Not for Hurting" program to include:

  • pre-school students in the Head Start Program; and

  • students from kindergarten through high school.