Topics: Crime and Victimization
Vera’s Accessing Safety Initiative (ASI) helps its partner jurisdictions—states and cities—enhance the capacity of their social services and criminal justice systems to assist women with disabilities & Deaf women who have experienced domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
Common Justice develops and advances solutions to violent crime that transform the lives of victims and foster racial equity without relying on incarceration. Locally, we operate the first alternative-to-incarceration and victim service program in the United States that focuses on violent felonies in the adult courts. Nationally, we leverage the lessons from our direct service to transform the justice system through partnerships, advocacy, and elevating the experience and power of those most impacted. Rigorous and hopeful, we build practical strategies to hold people accountable for harm, break cycles of violence, and secure safety, healing and justice for survivors and their communities.
In recent years, public and private funders have developed a keen sense of the importance of measuring the value of the programs they support. At the same time, many social service providers have started to recognize the benefit of evaluating their programs. Among grantors and grant recipients alike, economic belt-tightening and the resulting need to optimize spending allocations have fostered an appreciation for evaluation.
Vera's Center on Victimization and Safety (CVS) is evaluating an initiative that seeks to increase the capacity of mainstream victim service providers to effectively serve lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) victims of crime. The initiative, which is coordinated by the New York Anti-Violence Project on behalf of the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects, is being implemented in one domestic violence center and two rape crisis centers in different parts of the United States. The findings will be shared with victim service providers nationwide to help them improve services for LGBTQ survivors.
Vera’s Center on Victimization and Safety is developing performance indicators for disability and domestic violence organizations, as well as rape crisis centers, to measure progress towards improving services for people with disabilities and Deaf individuals who have experienced domestic or sexual violence.
Sexual assault against people with disabilities is a critical and neglected issue. Although empirical evidence is extremely limited, several studies based on population or convenience samples of sexual assault among people with disabilities report lifetime rates as high as 53 percent. However, few studies have examined criminal justice responses to and help-seeking patterns of diverse sexual assault survivors with disabilities (for example, gender, age, race and ethnicity, and disability type) using rigorous research methods and methods designed for this population. To address this gap, Vera’s Center on Victimization and Safety will conduct a National Institute of Justice-funded study in partnership with a large district attorney’s office and a community-based, non-residential program providing services to people with disabilities, with support from a local rape crisis center.
In 2012, the City of New York launched the nation’s first social impact bond—an innovative form of pay-for-success contracting that leverages private funding to finance public services—to fund the Adolescent Behavioral Learning Experience (ABLE) program, a large-scale initiative serving 16- to 18- year old youth detained in New York City’s Rikers Island jail.
Local jails exist in nearly every town and city in America. While rarely on the radar of most Americans, they are the front door to the formal criminal justice system in a country that holds more people in custody than any other on the planet. Their impact is both far-reaching and profound: in the course of a typical year, there are nearly 12 million jail admissions—almost 20 times the number of annual admissions to state and federal prisons—at great cost to the people involved, their families and communities, and society at large. Through research, publications, and technical assistance to local jurisdictions, Vera aims to foster public debate and policy reform to reduce jail incarceration, repair the damage it causes, and promote safe, healthy communities.
The National Qualified Representative Program (NQRP) provides legal representation for unrepresented immigrants who are detained in the custody of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and have been found by an Immigration Judge or the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) to be incompetent to represent themselves because of a serious mental disorder.
The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) worked with the Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) on a multi-year pilot project to help the adult residential and juvenile detention facilities of the Johnson County Department of Corrections (DOC) in Kansas partner with their county sexual assault response team (SART). Vera documented detailed steps for creating such partnerships, along with lessons learned from this project, in Partnering with Community Sexual Assault Response Teams: A Guide for Local Community Confinement and Juvenile Detention Facilities and its accompanying interactive web-based tool, PREAguide.org, released in December 2015.
The Supervised Visitation Initiative (SVI) works with supervised visitation programs funded by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women to enhance their capacity to effectively and safely serve families who have experienced domestic violence. The initiative provides these programs with training, tailored consultation, and access to information on best practices from programs across the country.
In March of 2012, Vera’s Center on Victimization and Safety partnered with the Ms. Foundation for Women to ensure that existing efforts to address sexual abuse of children are inclusive of children with disabilities. They also sought to increase the number and breadth of efforts that are specifically addressing sexual abuse of children with disabilities.