As prosecutors, we strive to improve the criminal justice response to sexual violence as a whole in order to promote safety and healing for victims, hold offenders accountable, and make our communities safer. But how do we measure our progress? The Sexual Assault Justice Initiative (SAJI) is a unique opportunity to not only measure success but to improve how we respond to sexual assault cases by developing resources and providing site-specific support to guide policy, practice, and the implementation of a performance management system to help improve and sustain the best practices.
Witness intimidation is “behavior which strikes at the heart of the justice system itself” (United States v. Mastrangelo, 693 F.2d 269 (2d Cir. 1982)). When intimidation of victims and witnesses is left unaddressed, perpetrators are not brought to justice, and the public safety is compromised. The goal of the Combating Witness Intimidation initiative (CWI) is to provide technical assistance to three pilot sites focused on implementing practices consistent with legal and evidence-based investigative and prosecution practices.
Human trafficking is one of the world's fastest growing criminal activities, operating on the same scale as the illegal trade of guns and drugs. Research has found that coordination, proactive investigative strategies, information sharing, victim-centered approaches, training, among other solutions, will improve the successful identification, investigation, and prosecution of human trafficking. AEquitas, in partnership with the International Associations of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and John Jay College of Criminal Justice, are providing training and technical assistance to support innovative investigative and prosecutorial techniques being employed by human trafficking task forces nationally.
Stalking often goes undetected, unreported, or uncharged because victims and first responders fail to recognize the conduct for what it is or because offices lack the specialized knowledge and resources necessary to handle these cases. SPARC was developed to ensure first responders and other allied professionals have access to the training and tools needed to properly identify and effectively respond to the crime of stalking.
There is currently no reliable estimate for the number of sexual assault kits (SAKs) that have not been submitted to a crime laboratory. Unsubmitted kits can be a result of poor evidence tracking, outdated investigation practices, lack of resources and personnel, or lack of understanding about the value of testing SAKs. AEquitas, with the National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative led by RTI International, is working to ensure just resolution to sexual assault cases through (1) a victim-centered approach, (2) jurisdictional capacity building to prevent high numbers of unsubmitted SAKs, and (3) supporting the investigation and prosecution of cases for which SAKs were previously unsubmitted.
Innovative approaches are needed to identify emerging issues and trends, create more comprehensive and responsive investigation and prosecution practices, ensure access to justice and safety for victims/witnesses, and evaluate the effectiveness of criminal justice interventions. Collaboration across disciplines and jurisdictions is also critical to creating and sustaining informed, effective responses to violent crime. AEquitas and RTI International are assisting participating jurisdictions on unique projects to implement, evaluate, and sustain innovative approaches to the prosecution of violent crime.
Partner with AEquitas
We value our partnerships with organizations who support our mission to improve the access to and quality of justice for victims of gender-based violence and human trafficking cases. Interested in joining forces? Let us know.
Violent criminals routinely escape justice by intimidating the witnesses to their crimes. Intimidation crimes range from crude to complex and when successful, escape the purview of the justice system which allows the criminal behavior to continue unchecked. The pervasive nature of these crimes is devastating to victims and a community's confidence in the justice system's ability to keep victims safe and hold offenders accountable.
Successful investigation and prosecution of elder abuse cases requires effective collaboration between prosecutors, law enforcement, judges, advocates, health care providers, and social service professionals. These allied professionals require specialized discipline-specific training, multidisciplinary cross training, and ongoing technical assistance in order to improve the quality of justice in elder abuse cases by increasing victim safety and offender accountability.
Sexual abuse in correctional facilities is a crime and a human rights violation. Each year, over 200,000 inmates are sexually abused, which can lead to physical and emotional consequences including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, drug addiction, and the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. These consequences are not confined to correctional facilities, as 600,000 inmates are released each year, making an effective criminal justice response to prison rape that much more crucial.