Texoma Alliance to Stop Abuse (TASA), a local family violence non-profit, was recently recognized by the Rural Justice Collaborative of the National Center for State Courts for its innovative work combating domestic violence in Wilbarger, Hardeman, and Foard counties.
Ten programs in eight states and Puerto Rico will receive recognition for their work in rural communities by the Rural Justice Collaborative. The programs have been nominated for their innovative practices in justice, child welfare, behavioral health and public health.
“This award recognizes the efforts of law enforcement, prosecutors, and victim advocates to work together to address the issue of intimate partner violence in our community,” stated TASA Executive Director Rachel Lira.
The RJC specifically recognized TASA’s Domestic Violence High Risk Team (DVHRT) and battering intervention program in its award. The DVHRT
, which is composed of prosecutors, law enforcement, community supervision officers, and victim advocates, has created uniform response protocols that are utilized by law enforcement agencies in all three counties in response to domestic violence cases. These protocols include the use of a lethality assessment tool, a strangulation supplement, and the provision of domestic violence educational materials to victims. During DVHRT meetings, members exchange information and create individualized plans to ensure the safety of these high-risk victims. Members of the team include the Wilbarger County Sheriff’s Office, Vernon Police Department, Foard County Sheriff’s Office, Hardeman County Sheriff’s Office, Chillicothe Police Department, Wilbarger County Attorney’s Office, 46th Judicial District Community Supervision Department, and First Step, Inc., a family violence shelter in Wichita Falls.
TASA’s battering intervention program (BIP) is a twenty-seven (27) week facilitated course for men who have been convicted of domestic violence or otherwise court-ordered to participate. The program covers methods to change habits, behaviors, and thinking errors of men who abuse with the goal of reducing recidivism.
TASA provides various services to victims of domestic violence including transportation, safety planning, free counseling, court accompaniment, connection to shelter, and financial assistance. TASA was founded in 2013 with volunteer and part-time employees and has gradually expanded over the years to its current size with two full-time employees and three part-time employees who serve as BIP facilitators.
“It is incredibly important for rural communities to have services readily available for victims of domestic violence,” stated District Attorney Staley Heatly. “Every victim in every town in every county deserves to have support, advocacy, and assistance. Period. These services work best when they are provided at the local level.”
The National Center for State Courts, headquartered in Williamsburg, Virginia, is a nonprofit court organization dedicated to improving the administration of justice by providing leadership and service to state courts. It was founded in 1971 by the Conference of Chief Justices and Chief Justice of the United States Warren E. Burger and provides education, training, technology, management, and research services to the nation’s state courts.
The RJC showcases the strengths of rural communities and highlights cross-sector collaboration success to overcome unique challenges that impact their ability to deliver fair and equitable justice. The work under the RJC is supported by an advisory council composed of rural judges along with additional stakeholders in the justice, child welfare, behavioral health, and public health systems.
Innovation sites selected include:
— Eastern Shore Mobile Care Collaborative at Caroline County (Maryland) Health Department. This program expands access to behavioral health treatment and medication-assisted treatment for people with opioid use disorders in rural Maryland.
— For All Seasons, Inc.. Serving rural counties along Maryland’s Eastern Shore, For All Seasons is a behavioral health and rape crisis center that offers therapy, psychiatry, rape crisis and mental health services to clients regardless of one’s ability to pay.
— Opioid Response as County Law Enforcement (ORACLE) initiative. This crisis-intervention and recovery response program based out of the Ulster County (NY) Sheriff’s Office provides direct assistance to people who overdose and works with public and private organizations to coordinate a wide array of services.
— Gender Violence Initiative. Serving a rural population in Puerto Rico, the Gender Violence Initiative is a court-based program that works with community partners to connect domestic and sexual violence survivors with victim services and offer a specialized gender court.
— Texoma Alliance to Stop Abuse, Inc. This rural Texas program provides batterers’ intervention and prevention classes and victims’ services including transportation, safety planning, counseling and financial assistance.
— Benevolence Farm. A trauma-informed, nonprofit social enterprise, this program provides transitional employment and housing for formerly incarcerated women in Alamance County and rural communities in North Carolina. Residents develop various life skills, including small business practices, sustainable farming, and food and product preparation.
— Journey Court is a voluntary trauma-informed drug treatment court that provides treatment and intervention services for addicted justice-involved people in Clinton County, Michigan. Participants receive case management, referrals to treatment providers or inpatient facilities, peer recovery support and relapse prevention planning.
— Rankin County Youth Court. This juvenile court provides various intervention and treatment programs for young people and their families involved in delinquency and child protection cases in Mississippi.
— Tennessee Recovery Oriented Compliance Strategy is a court diversion program operating out of Cocke, Grainger, Jefferson, and Sevier counties that serves justice-involved people who are at a lower risk for recidivism but have high behavioral health service needs due to substance use disorders and mental illness.
— Lyon County Human Services Forensic Assessment Triage Team is a jail-based community re-entry program in Nevada that provides treatment intervention and reentry facilitation for the Lyon County Jail. Participants are evaluated for mental health, substance use, basic needs, and risk of reoffending.