Holding Offenders Accountable


When a woman who has been beaten in her home dials 911 for help, she activates a complex institutional apparatus responsible for public safety. Within minutes, her call for help is translated into something that makes her experience something that institutions can act upon. Her experience has become a domestic violence case. Over the next 24 hours, up to a dozen individuals will act on her case. They hail from many agencies and levels of government. Over the next year, the number of agencies and people who work with her case – and therefore her safety – can more than double. 911 operators, dispatchers, patrol officers, jailers, court clerks, emergency room doctors and nurses, detectives, prosecuting attorneys, law enforcement victim advocates, prosecutor victim advocates, child protection workers, civil court judges, criminal court judges, family court judges, guardians ad litem, family court counselors, child and family investigators, therapists, social workers, probation officers, community-based advocates, children’s advocates, offender treatment provider advocates, and support group facilitators may all become involved in a chain of events activated by her original call for help.

The Safety Audit is a close look at how workers are institutionally coordinated, both administratively and conceptually, to think about and act on cases. The Audit Team uncovers practices within and between systems that compromise safety. It examines each processing point in the management of cases through interviews, observations, focus groups, review of case files and an analysis of institutional directives, forms and rules that govern a worker’s response.

Safety Audit 3-15-2012