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Trauma-Informed Approaches Across the Sequential Intercept Model

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 2022
10 pages

After documenting the presence of debilitating trauma among men and women processed by and managed in the criminal justice system and the risk this brings for recidivism, this report discusses how criminal justice professionals can be better prepared to address this condition in those they supervise.


According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, “A trauma-informed approach begins with understanding the physical, social, and emotional impact of trauma on the individual, as well as on professionals who help them.” This approach can be used to guide criminal justice professionals in developing practices, services, and policies that ;promote recovery and healing for people in the justice system who have been impacted by trauma. The content of this report is adapted from SAMHSA’s “Concept of Trauma and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach.” The following four principles are central to this approach: 1) Realize how widespread trauma is, not just among people in the criminal justice system, but also among staff; 2) Recognize the signs and symptoms of trauma among people under supervision and in treatment, or who are providing supervision and treatment services; 3) Respond by developing and implementing trauma-informed policies and practices through leadership; and 4) Resist retraumatizing people in the justice system and staff who work with them. Features of an environment that promote healing for trauma are physical and emotional safety; trustworthiness and transparency; peer support; collaboration and mutuality; empowerment, voice, and choice; and cultural, historical, and gender issues.