ON to extend assault counseling to prison

Staff Writer
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

A recently signed Memorandum of Understanding between the Osage Nation and Dick Conner Correctional Center will help victims of sexual assault with advocacy and supportive services. The Osage Nation Family Violence Prevention Department will provide the services for DCCC.

Osage Nation Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear signed the MOU in late May of this year and Janet Dowling, DCCC Warden, signed June 1. The new initiative is one of several developing services now provided by the FVPD in an effort to fully address the needs of the Osage Nation community and the extended non-Osage community on the Osage Nation Reservation in northeastern Oklahoma.

“I am unaware of any other tribe, in any state, that is providing these services for incarcerated victims,” said Olivia “Libbi” Gray, FVPD director, about taking on supportive services for incarcerated victims of sexual violence. “We are very excited to assist Dick Conner Correctional Center with maintaining its compliance with the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA).”

The U.S. Department of Justice states that the purpose of PREA is to, “provide for the analysis of the incidence and effects of prison rape in Federal, State, and local institutions and to provide information, resources, recommendations and funding to protect individuals from prison rape.” For more information, visit www.prearesourcecenter.org.

Inmate Sexual Assault Services

By answering the call for help by DCCC, the Osage Nation has agreed to respond to several needs that arise following a sexual assault. These services include: medical advocacy, legal advocacy, emotional support, referrals, information, crisis management, and follow-up crisis counseling by request of the offender-victim or the facility. As many as twenty-six counseling sessions can be provided for the offender-victim and, “as deemed necessary by the facility and FVPD in conjunction with the wishes of the offender-victim.”

FVPD is taking extreme privacy precautions for the incarcerated victims in order to protect them from any assaults that may occur as a result of an offender-victim trying to get help.

“The Osage Nation is stepping up to provide these most needed services to victims who are not only in immediate need of services, but who will likely return to their community one day. And, we want them to return in a healthy state of mind and body,” said Gray.

DCCC is located in Hominy, on the Osage Nation Reservation.

— Geneva HorseChief-Hamilton, Osage Nation Communications