Develop a SART
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Conduct Case Reviews

Purpose of Case Reviews

There are many reasons for you to hold case reviews during team meetings, including the following:

  • Acknowledging excellent SART responses: Case management reviews ideally start with case responses that have gone well. This keeps a balanced approach and anchors the team in success.
  • Using problem-solving techniques for difficult cases: Using problem-solving approaches to resolve the issues that arise with difficult cases during team meetings can provide creative solutions for specific issues discussed and create system adjustments to help ensure problem areas are resolved. Make sure that team members know before the meeting which cases will be reviewed so that those involved in the cases are prepared to discuss them. If open cases are reviewed, you'll need to decide if written materials should ever be handed out during meetings. (See Confidentiality in this toolkit.)
  • Discussing the delivery of services: Using case reviews to evaluate service delivery can foster better collaboration and a more holistic victim response. The team should ask the following questions:
    • Were there any services the victim accessed prior to the assault? Are they still needed?
    • Were services also provided to family members?
    • Are there additional services that should be provided to the victim, friends, or family?
    • Who will take the lead in following up on providing additional services?
    • Does the team have suggestions to improve service delivery systems?
  • Recommending systems improvements: Data collection used to monitor and track cases from initial contact through case closure can help to ensure quality responses. New Jersey and West Virginia provide a few examples.

    New Jersey has routine feedback and quality control forms for every case, which are turned in to the SART coordinator:12
    • Victim surveys allow victims to rate and comment on each aspect of the SART's response (e.g., patrol officer, detective, dispatch, medical team, rape crisis center, prosecutor, health care).
    • Peer evaluations allow SART team members to give feedback on services provided to victims. See the table below.
    SART Team Member Type of Feedback
    Advocate Treatment of the victim by dispatchers, sexual assault forensic examiners, reporting officers, sex crimes detectives, and prosecution.
    Forensic Laboratory Personnel Quality of evidence submitted by the sexual assault forensic examiner.
    Law Enforcement Official Treatment of the victim at the hospital, during joint interviews (if applicable), and during detective interviews when advocates attend, plus feedback on prosecutors' charging decisions.
    Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner Treatment of the victim by law enforcement officers, advocates, and prosecutors.
    Prosecutor Quality of court advocacy, law enforcement investigations, and the forensic exam evidence.

    West Virginia's SAKiTA Program assigns tracking numbers to all forensic medical exam kits when they are sent to the hospitals from the State Police Forensic Laboratory. Once a medical provider conducts an exam, he or she sends the completed exam kit to the crime lab for analysis. Crime lab personnel analyze the kit's contents and post their results and any additional feedback electronically on the SAKiTA system. The medical provider who performed the exam can directly access SAKiTA to review the results and feedback, which helps the provider become an effective expert witness in court and more effective at collecting evidence.
  • Identifying risk factors: SARTs should ask themselves "What can we do to prevent another sexual assault?" Case reviews are a forum during which sexual assault trends and offenders' modes of operation can become a springboard for educating the community about preventing sexual assault. For example, to identify risk factors and develop interventions, a community task force used a U.S. Department of Justice grant to examine situations in which women were sexually assaulted by acquaintances after getting into or being forced into the offender's vehicle.13 Similarly, SARTs can evaluate sexual assault trends during case reviews and develop intervention strategies, educational opportunities, and public awareness campaigns to increase public safety and minimize revictimizations.
Effective Case Reviews

At each case review, team members should—

  • Come prepared with information on the sexual assault to be reviewed.
  • Share their information openly and honestly.
  • Seek solutions instead of blame.
  • Ask the following questions:
    • Is the investigation complete, or should we investigate further? If so, what information are we looking for? Do we need to discuss the case at our next meeting?
    • Should we provide services to family members, friends, or colleagues?
    • Which risk factors were involved in the assault?
    • How can we best enhance services to victims and improve criminal or civil justice outcomes (e.g., changes in services, technologies, agency procedures, laws)?
    • Who should lead implementation of our recommendations?

Source: Adapted from National Center for Child Death Review, 2005, A Program Manual for Child Death Review, 49.