Community and criminal justice system advocates play a crucial role in aiding survivors in the aftermath of a traumatic victim experience. In addition, advocates aid survivors as they work through the complicated criminal justice system that is not always sensitive to survivors' needs and circumstances. Like SANEs, advocates uniquely understand survivors' experiences and perspectives.
Representatives from the Houston Area Women's Center have played a critical role in the project by ensuring the group maintains a survivor-centered approach and by discussing different roles for advocates throughout the criminal justice process. The Women's Center has worked on identifying best practices for notifying victims when older cases are re-opened, facilitated the collection of interview data from advocates and survivors, and has aided in the development of project initiatives, including the creation of a new "justice advocate" position within the adult sex crimes investigative unit in spring 2013. The justice advocate will work with a community-based counselor to address trauma issues and facilitate engagement with the criminal justice system. Additionally, the justice advocate will collaborate with investigators to ensure quality services are provided to victims and to facilitate offender accountability. The project team will measure these activities and address any needed changes can be made.
Chief Program Officer
Houston Area Women's Center
Justice Advocate Special Crimes Division
Houston Police Department