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How can I help incarcerated survivors when my organization has limited resources?

Start with an assessment of what you can provide. Many agencies are reluctant to offer services to incarcerated survivors because they cannot offer all of the same services that they offer to survivors in the community. While all survivors deserve the same quality of care, remember that some support is better than no support. It is far better for your agency to commit to answering letters from incarcerated survivors, even if you cannot provide a hotline, than to offer nothing. Likewise, survivors need advocacy and support during the medical forensic exam, even if you cannot provide longer term follow-up services.

  • Consider a multi-phased approach. Begin with the minimum that you know you can provide and make a plan to find resources to offer more.
  • Work with the corrections agency to apply for government or private foundation grants to fund services to incarcerated survivors.
  • Negotiate a contract or fee for service agreement with the corrections agency.
  • Together with the corrections agency, approach the county, city, or state government about including victim services in the coming years’ budgets.
  • Consider asking experienced volunteers, who might need a new challenge to stay engaged, to be part of your program for incarcerated survivors.

Many agencies have found that, as they work together with corrections agencies in their community, the team can pool opportunities and resources to benefit the rape crisis program, the detention facility, and survivors.