The National District Attorneys Association has produced a series of whitepapers that outline nationwide best practices for prosecuting a range of crimes. In addition to simply recognizing the brain science of trauma, the association recommends ensuring that trauma-informed interviewing best practices are internalized and become part of the DNA of any attorney general’s office. The association asks for victims to be treated with tolerance, empathy and dignity, and that interviewers do not jump to conclusions during the interview. These are foundational attributes of the Certified FETI Framework.
“We have a professional duty as prosecutors, advocates, and legal staff to become well versed in trauma. Survivors are more likely to engage throughout the investigation and court process if trauma-informed practices … are implemented.”
The association also argues that it is “essential for all agencies who are involved in these cases to be trained in proper trauma-informed responses to this vulnerable population.”
In a 2018 whitepaper outlining best practices for sexual assault prosecution, the association explained how crucial it is that prosecutors receive special training before taking a case revolving around a victim of sexual assault or other traumatic events.
Attorney general offices at the state level are mirroring these national recommendations. In December 2018, the Minnesota Attorney General’s task force released a report focused on correcting how state law enforcement and prosecution handle sexual assault cases in order to present ideas for legislative debate. The detailed accounting includes a number of recommendations for state agencies on all levels, but approaching victim interviews with a foundational knowledge of trauma appears throughout the recommendations.
The Minnesota report suggests that “attorneys who prosecute sexual assault cases should receive training on the neurobiology of trauma and trauma-informed interviewing, along with their law enforcement counterparts.”