The criminal justice system is a complex, multi-layered system with a variety of actors who perform different tasks and may have different goals. For sexual assault survivors, this may make navigating the criminal justice system overwhelming. Advocates at Sexual Assault Service Provider (SASPs) are trained to offer support and assist sexual assault survivors who interact with the criminal justice system.

A successful criminal justice system response to sexual assault is:

  • victim-centered (prioritizes the safety, privacy and well-being of the victim)
  • offender-focused (acknowledges that offenders intentionally target victims whom they believe they can successfully assault, including those perceived as vulnerable and/or lacking credibility).
Marsy's Law:

Law Enforcement

The role of law enforcement is to protect and serve the public, which includes the obligation to investigate crimes. In sexual assault cases, this means protecting the safety of the survivor and the community while collecting evidence in a fair and lawful manner. For many sexual assault survivors, law enforcement agencies will be the first point of contact with the criminal justice system.



The primary role of prosecution is to see that justice is accomplished. In sexual assault cases, this means protecting the safety and rights of the survivor and community by holding the offender accountable. To accomplish this goal, prosecutors must work in a coordinated and collaborative manner with the survivor, law enforcement, advocates, medical professionals, and the crime lab. Prosecutors are responsible for assessing reports of sexual assault to determine if enough evidence exists or could be obtained to file criminal charges. They must also consider the ethical issues of whether or not to file criminal charges.

  • Prosecutor's Sexual Assault Reference Book (WCASA, 2009) (*available on the Providers page)
  • Aequitas – The Prosecutors’ Resource on Violence Against Women

Department of Corrections

The Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC) is a state agency responsible for the operation of the Division of Adult Institutions (prisons), the Division of Community Corrections (probation and parole) and the Division of Juvenile Services. The mission of the DOC includes protecting the public, staff and offenders, and providing offenders opportunities for positive change and success. The DOC also promotes, educates and informs others about programs and successes, while collaborating with community service providers and other criminal justice entities.

A key goal of the DOC is to reduce recidivism. The DOC is fully committed to an expanded reentry philosophy that aims to cut repeat crime by implementing evidence-based practices (EBP), that have been shown to be successful in reducing the number of prisoners returning to the state correctional system.

Victim Services:

WI DOC NOTIS: NOTIS is an online service that provides enrolled victims, survivors and witnesses of crime with information and notification about individuals who are under the custody or supervision of DOC. Victims can get information about enrolling with VOICE from their county victim/witness program or they can contact the Office of Victim Services and Programs

VINE: Wisconsin Statewide Victim Notification (WI-VINE) service is a free and anonymous service that provides victims and the general public with information and notification about offenders who are under the custody of a Wisconsin county jail. WI-VINE monitors the custody status of offenders in Wisconsin’s county jails and offers access to offender custody status by telephone or online. Information is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

  • Visit or call 1-888-WI 4 VINE (1-888-944-8463)