February 25, 2016

Prison Rape Prevention Act

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The Prison Rape Elimination Act, or PREA, which was passed unanimously by Congress in 2003, requires prisons, jails and juvenile facilities to take steps to reduce incidents of sexual abuse in facilities.

In 2012 the U.S. Justice Department issued final standards compliance with the act.

Among the policies and practices required for compliance:

–Secure juvenile facilities must have a staffing ratio of 1 staff member per 8 offenders during waking hours and a 1 to 16 ration during sleeping hours.

–At least a third of all covered facilities must receive an audit by a certified PREA auditor each year; audits must be available to the public.

–Agencies must establish a method to receive third-party reports of sexual abuse or harassment and make information available to the public on how to report sexual assault or harassment on behalf of an inmate.

–Facilities must install cameras or station a staff member in areas that are “blind spot” areas where risk is higher of a sexual assault.

–State agencies that contract with third parties for confinement must include a clause in new contracts requiring compliance with PREA.

–Cross-gender pat-down or strip searches of inmates are restricted.

–Agencies must conduct a criminal background check (and for juvenile facility contractors, a check of child abuse registries) before enlisting the services of any contractor.

–Each facility must designate a PREA compliance manager.

–Agencies must obtain the personal history and behavior of each inmate to assess the risk of sexual assault and make placement decisions based on the risk level.

–Agencies must provide a way for residents to report sexual abuse to an outside public or private entity to allow the resident to remain anonymous.

–Community confinement facilities must provide medical and mental health services to victims of sexual assault, even if the victim does not name the accuser, at no cost to the victim.