Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $750,000)
Research demonstrates that the needs and experiences of survivors of gender-based violence, and particularly women of color, go largely unaddressed by the traditional criminal justice system approach to victim services. Through this project, the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys (APA) will target these service gaps and advance race equity through the implementation and evaluation of survivor-defendant diversion programs. These programs divert cases of defendants who are identified as prior gender-based violence survivors from the traditional prosecution track, and instead provide services and opportunities tailored to the experiences of women of color.
APA will partner with professional organizations and researchers to ensure the efficacy and relevance of project activities. APA and Bowie State University (BSU) will collaborate to create and disseminate an initial fieldwide survey of existing survivor-defendant programs that will identify service/training gaps and preferential practices and policies.
At the inception of this project, APA will appoint an Advisory Group comprised of key criminal justice and victim services stakeholders. This group will develop a robust Request for Proposals (RFPs) process to identify prosecutor offices for implementation of survivor-defendant diversion pilot programs and review the submitted applications. Upon site selection, the group will guide pilot site selection and project development.
APA and its partners will work with the selected sites to plan, implement, and evaluate survivor-defendant diversion programs. APA will collaborate often with the pilot sites through online check-ins and in person site visits to draft program policies, curate relationships with one or multiple service providers, and incorporate the perspective of individuals with lived experience into program development. APA’s partnership with the YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish and their SurvivorsFIRST program will provide model policies and practices for selected sites to draw from as they establish a survivor-defendant diversion program specific to their jurisdictional needs. After one year of implementation, APA and BSU will conduct an evaluation of the pilot programs to ensure program efficacy and identify areas for improvement. By examining the results with site leaders, a plan for both performance improvement and program sustainability will ensure programmatic success long after the grant period.
Through this project, gender-based violence survivors in jurisdictions across the country will be diverted from the criminal justice system to receive services to address the needs associated with their victimization. This project will allow prosecutor offices and victim services to simultaneously advance race equity, reduce recidivism for survivors, and improve safety in their communities.