Building Peer Support Programs for Prosecutors

Building Peer Support Programs for Prosecutors
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1 Module 1
Recorded on: 2021-02-18
Unit 1 Slide Deck: Building Peer Support Programs for Prosecutors
Unit 2 Transcript: Building Peer Support Programs for Prosecutors
Unit 3 Workbook: Building Peer Support Programs for Prosecutors
Unit 4 Recording: Building Peer Support Programs for Prosecutors

Everyone experiences stress in some form or another. Between seeing people in some of the worst circumstances, being privy to information that are just downright graphic, or having to hear the details of some of the most gruesome scenarios, those working in the criminal justice field ate subjected to an advanced level of stress and trauma. Thus, the need for support systems that can help them address thoughts and emotions that come with the job. Peer Support Programs are just one of those mechanisms.

Leading this webinar to talk about building one of these existing support systems are Hilary Wienberg and Jennifer Heisig from the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office (MCAO). Hilary Weinberg is currently assigned to the Vehicular Crimes Bureau and is one of the founders and supervisors of the MCAO’s Peer Support Program (PSP). Meanwhile, Jennifer is the Bureau Chief in the Victim Services Division. She has a background as a counselor and crisis responder, and is also one of the MCAO PSP’s coordinators.

Some of the topics discussed in this session are:

  • The high-pressure, high-workload, and high-stress nature of the work for prosecutors.
  • The inevitable stressors that prosecutors are often exposed to in the job.
  • What peer support is and what it is not, what it provides for the MCAO staff, and its objectives.
  • How the MCAO PSP came to be – the role that the leadership played in acknowledging the problem, recognizing the need to provide systems in place to address this, and abolishing the stigma that comes with seeking help.
  • The law enforcement framework from which the MCAO PSP is based on.
  • The very first steps taken before forming the PSP – conducting a survey to provide parameters on what is expected and needed from the project.
  • Developing the program based on the findings of the survey, employing a primary mental health professional to provide guidelines for implementation, and selecting coordinators to spearhead the initiative.
  • The critical component of confidentiality for a peer support system to work effectively – drafting a confidentiality policy and identifying exceptions on what can be disclosed.
  • Building the Peer Support Team: Defining the job description, announcing the recruitment of team members, developing screeners for candidates, and forming the interview panel to determine suitability.
  • A rundown of the qualifications for a peer support team member.
  • The policies, training, and tools that were developed for program outreach, ensure the team members are equipped to provide assistance, provide referrals as needed, and report on the outcomes of the effort.
  • Implementing the PSP, the sectors that the program serves, the challenges experienced by the team, and lessons learned from it.
  • The MCAO PSP so far: Eight years since its inception, a glimpse into the team’s manpower, resource, engagement efforts, services provided, and evolution.
  • How COVID has changed the PSP’s work structure and response.
  • How MCAO PSP is serving as a model program and is being recognized by other agencies.
  • The basics of a good program and the building blocks to team success which were key to MCAO’s PSP.

Points highlighted during the Q&A were about:

  • The policy and details related to ensuring confidentiality and accountability in the incident of a breach.
  • The need for the rank to be the same in the peer support model.
  • Continuing education made available to peer support team members.
  • Outcomes of the program.



Other Webinars with this Speaker include:


Resources and Handouts


Audience Comments

  • “Well done and FYI I am from Canada. Peer Support is used within the Ontario Provincial Police. Within Ontario Corrections the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available. All of this is confidential and private. Thank you.” — Bob
  • “Great step-by-step presentation providing sufficient information for program replication or improvement to an existing program.” — Felecia
  • “I will suggest this program to upper management.” — Johnnie-Mae
  • “Great information on an important and timely topic for those of us who work in a stressful profession! Good ideas to take forward for our own offices.” — Nancy
  • “I am going to try implementing this type of a program at the Sheriff’s Office. We need it.” — Robert


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