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Survivors in Detention Facilities

What is PREA?

The Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003(PREA) is the first federal law passed to address sexual violence in prisons and jails. PREA states that sexual assault in detention can constitute a violation of the eighth amendment of the U.S. Constitution and requires that facilities adopt a zero-tolerance approach to this form of abuse. PREA's requirements apply to all detention facilities, including federal and state prisons, jails, police lock-ups, private facilities, and immigration detention centers.

PREA created the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission (NPREC), which was charged with recommending to the Attorney General standards for responding to and preventing sexual violence in confinement. After reviewing the proposed standards and receiving input, the Attorney General published the final rule containing these standards for public comment in May 2012, and it became effective on August 20, 2012. The standards apply to federal and state prisons, jails, juvenile detention facilities, lockup and community confinement. The Department of Homeland Security was responsible for writing the PREA Standards that apply to immigration detention facilities. Those standards were not finalized until February 2014 and can be found here: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-03-07/pdf/2014-04675.pdf.

PREA in Washington State

WCSAP was fortunate to receive an initial PREA grant award in 2004 to work collaboratively with stakeholders and the Washington State Department of Corrections on PREA considerations. The funding supported critical partnerships, the development of internal practices for the Department, and training and resource development for sexual assault community advocates in Washington State. To date, the state continues to address PREA issues.

The PREA standards require that inmates have access to external, confidential victim services. In 2012, shortly after the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) standards were finalized, WCSAP began meeting with the Office of Crime Victims Advocacy (OCVA) and the Washington State Department of Corrections (WADOC) to discuss implementation of the PREA Victim Services Standards in prison and work release facilities in our state. The purpose of this partnership is to create a statewide, coordinated response to sexual assault advocacy services for individuals incarcerated in DOC prison and work release facilities in Washington.

To read more about the partnership and project, you can view our recent issue of Connections on Advocacy with Incarcerated Survivors of Sexual Violence in Washington State. In addition, WCSAP and the other state partners were featured on the national webinar "Developing Partnerships with Community-Based Service Providers Part I." The webinar and the PowerPoint presentation are archived on the PREA Resource Center website. Contact WCSAP for more information about this ongoing project. 

In our ongoing effort to ensure confidential advocacy services are available to all survivors, including survivors in jails, juvenile detention, prisons, and work release facilities, WCSAP recently convened a work group of corrections stakeholders, who are leaders in their respective fields. This work group, and ongoing consultation with community-based advocates in Washington State, is informing WCSAP's continued work on this essential issue.

WCSAP members can seek support for their work with incarcerated survivors of sexual violence by contacting WCSAP. Please note that some funding sources have restrictions that may prohibit providing services to incarcerated individuals. Programs should consult with their funders to ensure services are supported.


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Reviewed: December 16th, 2016