Developing a Toolkit for Law Enforcement to Address Sexual Assault  (2013)

Researcher(s):

Project Sponsor(s)

  • Texas Office of the Governor Criminal Justice Division (CJD)

Project Categories

IDVSA Project Directors:

  • Laurie Cook Heffron, LMSW
  • Karin Wachter, MEd

Background

Findings from The University of Texas at Austin Institute on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault’s (IDVSA) sexual assault needs assessment 2011 reveal that while there are valiant efforts across Texas to address sexual assault crimes, there is a still ample work to be done. In 2003, IDVSA reported that 1.9 million Texans are victims of sexual assault (20% of women and 5% of men)—an annual incident rate of 80,000 crimes; only 18% of all sexual assault crimes are reported to law enforcement; approximately 40% of all cases do not go forward with investigation because of a lack of evidence.

Findings suggest that victims are reluctant to fully engage in the criminal justice system, even after reporting, because of the complex aftermath of sexual assault and often difficult experiences with law enforcement. The result is that a small percentage of perpetrators are held accountable by the criminal justice system. Given these previous findings, this project was initiated.

The Project

The overall goal of the Law Enforcement Toolkit Project is to develop a toolkit for law enforcement to use in responding to sexual assault cases. The purpose of the toolkit will be to improve criminal justice system outcomes by having law enforcement engage with victims of sexual assault using a more victim-centered approach. A broad range of activities will take place to achieve this goal, including: a search for and review of relevant national resources; engagement of law enforcement administrators, police officers, other criminal justice practitioners and victim advocates to discuss what is needed and what can help; and, the development of the toolkit itself. The toolkit will be the main deliverable with a dissemination plan that includes online training and/or the availability of the toolkit on the Web.

Sponsor

This project was supported by subgrant No. 2577601 awarded by the state administering office for the STOP Formula Grant Program (Violence Against Women Act, VAWA), Texas Office of the Governor, Criminal Justice Division (CJD).

The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the state or the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.