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|from the INCARCERATION TRENDS project|
Community-based sexual assault response teams, or SARTs, are considered a best practice for addressing the needs of victims and holding perpetrators accountable. The federal standards for implementing the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) mandate the coordinated response provided by SARTs to ensure that victims of sexual abuse in confinement settings—including jails, prisons, lockups, and community confinement and juvenile facilities—get the services and care they need. This guide, also available at PREAguide.org, is designed to assist administrators of local community confinement and juvenile detention facilities in collaborating with a SART. It is based on the experiences and lessons learned from the Sexual Assault Response Teams in Corrections Project (SARTCP), a multi-year pilot program funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), that Vera implemented in Johnson County, Kansas.
Our media, our culture, and even some of our statutes continually reinforce the idea that in order to be deserving of care, a victim of crime has to be “innocent.” However, this idea excludes a wide range of people from services and limits the options and resources available to those who survive serious harm. In this series from Vera’s Current Thinking blog, you’ll hear from service providers who have experience working with survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence, young men of color harmed by street violence, LGBTQ survivors, survivors with disabilities, survivors engaged in sex work, survivors of human trafficking, and others. Together, these writers explore the limitations imposed by our existing framework of “innocence” and point to ways forward that better uphold the values of equity, public safety, and human dignity.
The Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA) established a federal commission to draft national standards that address sexual abuse in confinement settings. PREA also required the U.S. Attorney General to promulgate regulations based on the standards that apply to all federal, state, and local confinement settings, including juvenile detention, lockups, and community confinement. The federal PREA standards require agencies to take a number of steps to prevent, detect, and respond to sexual abuse. Among those steps are making sure that incarcerated people with disabilities have an equal opportunity to participate and benefit from all of the agency’s PREA efforts. Making PREA and Victim Services Accessible for Incarcerated People with Disabilities: An Implementation Guide for Practitioners on the Adult and Juvenile Standards provides strategies to correctional agencies that will aid their compliance with these PREA requirements. The strategies discussed in this guide draw on established practices used by victim service organizations—both community-based and those based in government agencies—to make their services more accessible for this population. By offering concrete recommendations on how to adapt these community practices to correctional settings, this guide aims to help adult and juvenile correctional facilities increase accessibility for people with disabilities.
Attention is increasingly being paid to the disparities young men of color face in our society, including their disproportionate involvement in the criminal justice system as those responsible for crime. Little recognition, however, is given to the fact that young men of color are also disproportionately victims of crime and violence.
Vera convened a panel of experts to discuss the disparities in our response to violence, which included Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, Representative, Eight Congressional District of New York, and Kenneth Thompson, District Attorney, Brooklyn, Dr. Richard Dudley, Psychiatrist, New York City, and Rev. Dr. Harold Trulear, Professor of Applied Theology, Howard University School of Divinity. The panel was moderated by Kirsten Levingston, Program Officer, at the Ford Foundation.
For more information about addressing disparities in our response to violence, please download our issue brief.
Incarcerated people at risk for sexual victimization need to be housed safely without losing access to programming, mental and medical health services, and group activities. The National Standards to Prevent, Detect, and Respond to Prison Rape emphasize that isolation be used to protect at-risk populations only when no other alternatives are available and all other options have been explored. To help agencies achieve compliance with these standards, Vera’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections, in conjunction with the National PREA Resource Center, has developed guidelines to provide prison and jail administrators and staff with promising strategies for safely housing inmates at risk of sexual abuse without isolating them. This guide includes approaches for managing the housing of populations at particularly high risk for sexual abuse in confinement: women; youthful inmates in adult facilities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex (LGBTI) individuals; and people who are gender nonconforming.
Local jails, which exist in nearly every town and city in America, are built to hold people deemed too dangerous to release pending trial or at high risk of flight. This, however, is no longer primarily what jails do or whom they hold, as people too poor to post bail languish there and racial disparities disproportionately impact communities of color. This report reviews existing research and data to take a deeper look at our nation’s misuse of local jails and to determine how we arrived at this point. It also highlights jurisdictions that have taken steps to mitigate negative consequences, all with the aim of informing local policymakers and their constituents who are interested in reducing recidivism, improving public safety, and promoting stronger, healthier communities.
A new initiative to reduce over-incarceration by changing the way America thinks about and uses jails.
Recent research suggests that Deaf women experience higher rates of sexual and domestic violence than their hearing counterparts, but are often shut off from victim services and supports that are ill-equipped to respond to their unique needs. As a result, they are denied access to services that could help them safely flee from abuse, heal from trauma, and seek justice after they have been harmed. This policy brief offers practical suggestions for expanding and enhancing Deaf survivors’ access to victim services and other supports.
To ensure that they deliver what they promise—and do so cost-effectively—social service providers that serve victims of sexual and domestic violence are beginning to recognize the benefits of evaluating their programs. Many service providers, however, embark on self-evaluations without the underlying infrastructure necessary to support evaluation. This guide helps these service providers assess their evaluation capacity and identify areas of strength, as well as areas for improvement.
In addition to the publication, Vera has created a resource hub on its website to provide domestic and sexual violence service providers with access to five webinars that explore a number of topics addressed in the guide and provide an inside look at how organizations have applied these lessons in the field.
Attention is increasingly being paid to the disparities young men of color face in our society, including their disproportionate involvement in the criminal justice system as those responsible for crime. Little recognition, however, is given to the fact that young men of color are also disproportionately victims of crime and violence. This issue brief aims to raise awareness of this large but often overlooked group of victims, and help foster efforts—both local and nationwide—to provide them with the compassionate support and services they need and deserve.
Beyond Offender and Victim explains rationale behind the Vera demonstration project Common Justice’s use of “harmed party” and “responsible party” to describe the person who survives harm and the person who causes harm, respectively.