Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) of 2003
The Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 is the first United States Federal law passed dealing with the sexual assault of prisoners. The bill was signed into law on September 4, 2003 by President George W. Bush. For the victim advocates, attorneys, and survivors who had been striving for more than two decades to shed light on the issue of sexual abuse behind bars, the passage of PREA was a milestone. For the first time in U.S. history, Congress affirmed unanimously the duty of correctional agencies to protect incarcerated individuals from sexual abuse and established a zero tolerance standard for sexual abuse in America’s correctional facilities. PREA covers all adult, as well as juvenile detention facilities. The Act supports the elimination, reduction and prevention of sexual assault and rape within detention facilities; mandates national data collection efforts; provides funding for the program development and research; creates a national commission to develop standards and accountability measures; applies to all federal, state and local detainment facilities which include, adult and juvenile detention facilities, facilities, police lock ups and community confinements. The act also created the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission and charged it with developing draft standards for the elimination of prison rape. Those standards were published in June 2009, and were turned over to the Department of Justice for review and passage as a final rule. That final rule became effective August 20, 2012.
History of PREA
The San Bernardino County Probation Department has a zero-tolerance policy regarding sexual abuse and sexual harassment involving youth with other youth, youth with staff, visitors, contractors, volunteers and interns as defined by the Department of Justice PREA Juvenile Standards, California State law, and the San Bernardino County Probation Department policies.
Departmental Response to Sexual Abuse or Sexual Harassment
- The department will fully investigate and immediately address all allegations of sexual abuse and sexual harassment to include criminal and administrative sanctions as appropriate.
- Probation staff are to immediately verbally report any instance of suspected or observed sexual abuse or sexual harassment to a supervisor or administrator and document the matter in writing within 24 hours.
- Probation staff, volunteers/contractors are required to immediately intervene and report to a Probation Department employee when they suspect or observe sexual abuse or sexual harassment.
- No probation staff member, individual subject to probation supervision, youth, volunteer, or collaborative partner will be subject to retaliation for acting in good faith to intervene in, report or document any incident of sexual abuse or sexual harassment.
- Employees have a duty to immediately report all rumors and allegations of sexual abuse and sexual harassment.
- Local Sexual Assault Response Teams (S.A.R.T.) will ensure alleged victims of sexual abuse receive immediate medical attention.
- The local S.A.R.T. will also ensure alleged victims of sexual abuse receive a mental health evaluation.
- All allegations of sexual abuse will be for investigated.
Employee Awareness and Education
- All employees receive training about the federal law, state law, and departmental policy governing sexual abuse and sexual harassment.
- All employees receive annual training concerning their duty to report rumors or allegations of sexual abuse or sexual harassment, to whom they should report, how they should report, and when they should report such incidents.
- All employees receive training about how to detect an unreported incident of sexual abuse and sexual harassment.
- Vendors, contractors, volunteers and visitors authorized to enter the Department’s facilities receive information and training regarding their responsibility to report and detect sexual abuse and sexual harassment
Youth Awareness and Education
- All youth upon intake, including those youth who are transferred from another facility, receive notice that sexual contact is strictly prohibited and punishable by disciplinary action or criminal prosecution.
- All youth receive ongoing training on what to do if they have become a victim of sexual abuse, including the various reporting methods.
- All youth have access to toll free phone numbers to report incidents of sexual abuse or sexual misconduct without fear of retaliation.
All PREA allegations are reviewed and assigned for investigation. Local law enforcement conducts all criminal investigations. Administrative investigation (non-criminal) of sexual abuse and harassment are conducted by PREA Investigators who have received specialized training for juveniles in confinement.
What Is Sexual Abuse?
- Sexual abuse includes any of the following acts, if the victim does not consent, is coerced into such act by overt or implied threats of violence, or is unable to consent or refuse:
- Contact between the penis and the vulva or the penis and the anus, including penetration, however slight;
- Contact between the mouth and the penis, vulva, or anus;
- Penetration of the anal or genital opening of another person, however slight, by a hand, finger, object, or other instrument; and
- Any other intentional touching, either directly or through the clothing, of the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or the buttocks of another person, excluding contact incidental to a physical altercation.
- Contact between the mouth and any body part where the staff member, contractor, or volunteer has the intent to abuse, arouse, or gratify sexual desire;
- Penetration of the anal or genital opening, however slight, by a hand, finger, object, or other instrument, that is unrelated to official duties or where the staff member, contractor, or volunteer has the intent to abuse, arouse, or gratify sexual desire;
- Any other intentional contact, either directly or through the clothing, of or with the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or the buttocks, that is unrelated to official duties or where the staff member, contractor, or volunteer has the intent to abuse, arouse, or gratify sexual desire;
- Any attempt, threat, or request by a staff member, contractor, or volunteer to engage in the activities described in paragraphs (a)-(e) of this section;
- Any display by a staff member, contractor, or volunteer of their uncovered genitalia, buttocks, or breast in the presence of any youth
What is sexual Harassment?
Repeated and unwelcome sexual advances; requests for sexual favors; verbal comments, gestures or actions of a derogatory or offensive sexual nature by one youth directed toward another; repeated verbal comments or gestures of a sexual nature to a youth, by a staff member, contractor or volunteer, including demeaning references to gender, sexually suggestive or derogatory comments about body or clothing, or obscene language or gestures.
What is Voyeurism?
An invasion of privacy of a detained youth by staff for reasons unrelated to official duties, such as peering at an youth who is using the toilet in their room to perform bodily functions; requiring an youth to expose their buttocks, genitals, or breast; or taking images of all or part of an youth’s naked body or of a youth performing bodily functions.
How to report sexual abuse or sexual harassment
Youth are encouraged to report all allegations of sexual abuse and sexual harassment immediately by:
- Using the youth phones to make a confidential report of allegations of sexual abuse and sexual harassment.
- Speaking to the PREA Coordinator, a staff member, detention supervisor, chaplain, social worker, Probation Officer, medical staff or the Forensic Adolescent Service Team (FAST).
Youth, parents, family friends, or staff at the facility may also report on someone’s behalf. Reporting any sexual abuse made or attempted by any youth, volunteer, vendor or staff member of the San Bernardino County Probation Department may be reported by contacting (All reports are confidential):
National PREA Resource Center https://www.prearesourcecenter.org/
PREA Final Rule https://www.prearesourcecenter.org/sites/default/files/library/PREA-FinalRule.pdf
Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) https://www.bjs.gov
National Institute of Corrections (NIC) https://nicic.gov
Juvenile Detentions International (JDI) https://justdetention.org
PREA Resources for Health Care Providers https://www.ncchc.org/prea-resources
Parent Pamphlet - Spanish
Contractor Pamphlet - Spanish
Juvenile Detention Handbook
Juvenile Detention Handbook - Spanish