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Incarcerated Survivor Support Program

Green plant sprout growing in midst of barbed wire on top of prison wall

BARCC believes that all survivors deserve support in healing from the trauma of sexual violence. We also know that sexual violence affects thousands of people who are in the correctional system. That’s why BARCC started working in 2014 to provide vital support to survivors of sexual violence who are incarcerated in Massachusetts. 

The Incarcerated Survivor Support program was first started in response to the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), federal regulations released in 2012 aimed at reducing sexual violence in prison.

Challenges survivors face in prisons, jails, and correctional facilities

  • Limited resources: Prisoners can’t use the internet. They have less access to people and materials that will help them process the trauma they’ve experienced, find healing, and explore their options.
  • Lack of control: Being incarcerated significantly limits the choices survivors can make. Regaining a sense of control is a paramount aspect of healing and difficult to have in a correctional facility.
  • Goal of the prison system: The goal of the correctional facility is not to support healing for survivors. While BARCC works to empower survivors, the prison system works to maintain control over them and their activities.

Our Incarcerated Survivor Support services

BARCC works with three agencies—the Massachusetts Department of Corrections, the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department, and the Norfolk County Sheriff’s Office—to provide support in 21 facilities throughout the state.

“BARCC cares about supporting all survivors in their healing, and that’s why it’s important for us to be in prisons and jails.”
—Dave Rini, BARCC Incarcerated Survivor Support Program Coordinator

BARCC’s free services for incarcerated survivors include the following:

  • Confidential hotline, 12 hours a day, for survivors to get emotional support, information about making Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) reports, and more
  • Accompaniment at the hospital when a prisoner is there for a sexual assault evidence collection exam
  • A mail program that provides resources, recommendations, and referrals
  • Orientation and education for prisoners on their PREA rights and how to access resources

BARCC also provides training for correctional staff and administrators about the impact of sexual violence. BARCC has conducted multiple trainings for all three agencies on the following topics:

  • Understanding sexual violence
  • Obligations under PREA
  • Impact of trauma
  • How to support survivors by providing safety, offering options, walking through the process, and recognizing needs
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