Domestic violence has been elevated to a global epidemic in recent years. Domestic violence victims of closely knit and observant religious communities face a distinct set of barriers, which affects their ability and willingness to report and to cooperate with law enforcement, as well as their ability to escape the abuse. This article provides a unique window into the hidden world of domestic violence victims in communities of faith and tackles some of the complexities associated with this sensitive issue.
This one-pager is a concise summary of anonymous reporting, also known as “Jane Doe” reporting, which refers to cases in which a forensic medical examination is conducted, evidence is collected, and medical treatment is provided for a sexual assault victim who does not report the crime to law enforcement. The resource outlines how anonymous reporting works, what happens to rape kits in those case, and where to go for more information on DNA testing and anonymous reporting.
The pervasive problem of victim/witness intimidation in the criminal justice system requires a strategy for change and firm commitments from leaders and practitioners alike. This resource includes tools for practitioners to use collaboratively within their communities. These tools provide criminal justice leaders with concrete guidance to implement best practices in preventing and responding to witness intimidation. The resource defines the problem, identifies concrete solutions, and outlines a process for assessing and improving witness safety.
The passage of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) in 2003 created not only a requirement that jurisdictions prevent and respond to incidents of sexual abuse in confinement, but firmly planted sexual abuse in confinement on the list of critical issues for criminal justice system officials across the country. This resource gives an overview of the PREA standards and outlines what an appropriate response to cases of sexual abuse in confinement requires. Professionals require relevant information on the PREA Standards, an understanding of the dynamics of sexual abuse (particularly those dynamics specific to abuse in the confinement setting), and collaboration among the professionals in the jurisdiction. The criminal justice system should consider victims’ safety, privacy, and well-being throughout the process, while ensuring they have access to information and services. Such a response keeps the focus on the actions, behaviors, characteristics, and intent of the abuser.
In 2015, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decided Commonwealth v. Olivo, upholding, against state constitutional attack, the new Pennsylvania evidentiary statute permitting expert testimony to explain victim behavior in the prosecution of crimes of sexual violence. Previously, the courts of Pennsylvania had steadfastly resisted admission of such testimony, despite the widespread acceptance of such evidence by other courts across the country. The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape submitted this amicus curiae brief, with contributions by AEquitas Attorney Advisor Teresa M. Garvey, in support of the statute’s constitutionality. The brief highlights the value of expert testimony to explain victim behavior so that jurors do not base their credibility assessments on myths and misconceptions.
Stalking affects 7.5 million people in the United States a year, with 15 percent of women and 6 percent of men being stalked in their lifetime. Stalking entails repeat victimization because it constitutes a series of acts rather than a single incident and it can cause sustained and repeated emotional distress. This guide is a resource for prosecutors in stalking cases. It provides an overview of stalking and suggests best practices for prosecuting offenders. It should be used as a guide for attorneys to support their own research and for problem-solving in prosecuting these types of cases.
Witness intimidation affecting the criminal justice system can take many forms and arise in many contexts. Its presence and effects are not always self-evident, either to professionals working in the system or to the witnesses themselves. While overt threats may be easily recognized and categorized, other forms of intimidation may be subtle or disguised, or too easily overlooked in the course of responding to what has been identified as the primary criminal offense. This Field Guide to Witness Intimidation is intended to be a convenient reference to assist professionals in identifying acts of witness intimidation that may affect their work with victims and witnesses vulnerable to such pressures.