The Blueprint for Safety is in large part an ongoing process of finding and fixing problems in the criminal legal system response to domestic violence crimes. Analyzing current policy and practice is necessary in order to identify problems and determine what kinds of local adaptations to make. Most communities will have some aspects of the Blueprint already built into their current practice, although the elements might not be working as assumed. For example, a law enforcement policy defines and requires a predominant aggressor determination prior to making an arrest decision when both parties appear to have used violence. When you examine what kind of Blueprint-specific policy and practice is actually in place, however, you discover that the predominant aggressor considerations are not applied in practice as intended. In Phase 2, the adaptation team seeks statistical data and first-hand information about victims’ experiences with the criminal legal system, including whether and how experiences differ for communities that are over-represented and/or under-served in the criminal system’s response. The tasks and tools in Phase 2 also help practitioners and community-based advocates work together in new ways to identify, document, and solve problems using the Blueprint approach. The practice assessment methods presented here are useful both in the initial policy adaptation and in the subsequent monitoring of changes post-implementation. Phase 2 develops baseline practice data and a framework for ongoing evaluation of the Blueprint’s impact. Ongoing practice assessment, in turn, helps sustain the Blueprint into the future.
The Blueprint coordinator, advocate, members of the adaptation team, and other advocates and practitioners as needed form small (typically, two to six members) internal work groups to conduct the practice assessment. The work groups gather information by mapping the criminal legal system response and studying case records (e.g., 911 recordings, patrol reports, prosecution case files, or probation risk assessment forms). They may also interview practitioners and community members and observe steps in criminal case processing (e.g., sit with 911 call-takers, ride along with patrol officers, or attend bail hearings). Work groups check what they read, hear, and see against the recommended practice outlined in the essential elements in order to identify gaps that the Blueprint will address. The practice assessment might also reveal that the ways in which cases are actually handled differs from both the essential elements and from common assumptions about what happens. Among the Blueprint coordinator’s key responsibilities is to organize and guide the practice assessment. The coordinator consults with the Blueprint advocate on how to best connect with a wide range of survivors and community-based advocacy organizations to learn about victims’ experiences with the criminal legal system response. The coordinator ensures that there are broad-based community consultations with survivors, including those from communities that are overrepresented and/or underserved in seeking help from the criminal legal system.
Tasks & Tools
View and download the Phase 2 – Key Tasks, Tools and People chart highlighting the major tasks, listed below, involved in the phase of assessing practice and identifying problems, the tools introduced or useful at each step, and the key players involved. Again, while the chart highlights the major tasks, tools, and key players involved in Phase 2, many activities will be underway simultaneously. The key people who will carry out the Phase 2 tasks include: the Blueprint Coordinator, the Blueprint Advocate, the Adaptation Team, agency liaisons, and ad hoc work groups.
Phase 2 Key Tasks
- Identify the needed internal work groups and recruit members.
- Create a source book of local policies, administrative forms and protocols for current criminal case processing of domestic violence cases.
- Assemble all materials necessary to conduct the assessment: policies, protocols, forms laws, statistical information, case records (e.g., files, tapes, reports).
- Schedule activities related to information-gathering activities (case analysis, observations, and interviews) and/or provide the work groups with details on how to make those arrangements.
- Compare current policy with the Blueprint essential elements.
- Compile baseline statistical data on domestic violence-related cases: e.g., 911 calls, arrests, crimes charged, disposition, sentencing, demographics.
- Map each point of criminal case processing (911 through to probation monitoring), with specific attention to how risk and danger and advocacy are addressed.
- Analyze case records (e.g., 911 calls, patrol reports, prosecution files, probation records, etc.) to compare current practice with recommended practice.
- Interview agency directors, supervisors, and practitioners about current practice.
- Observe current practices via patrol ride-alongs, 911 “sit-alongs,” court observations, and other practitioner observations.
- Use information from the Blueprint advocate and community consultation to discover victims/survivors’ experiences with the criminal legal system.
- Include statistical data and first-hand information about the experiences of victims of battering from communities overrepresented and/or underserved in seeking help from the criminal legal system.
- Use community consultations to help guide the practice assessment activities and analysis, with specific attention to communities that are overrepresented and/or underserved communities in seeking help from the criminal legal system.
- Coordinate and facilitate meetings to review, interpret, and analyze data throughout the assessment process.
- Keep a written record of all discussions, conclusions, and recommendations related to the practice assessment.
Phase 2 Tools
Some of the tools introduced in the early steps of exploring and preparing for the Blueprint continue to be used in Phase 2, such as the agency tracking checklist, strategies to stay focused, tasks and timeline, and essential elements. The Policy and Practice Assessment Guide introduced in Phase 2 will be used at later stages of monitoring the Blueprint after implementation. The Policy and Practice Assessment Guide, Appendix 22, is the primary tool for Phase 2.
The tools referenced in Phase 2 are listed below and can also be located in the Appendix section of the Guide:
10. Blueprint for Safety Essential Elements – Annotated