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Through a cooperative agreement between BJA and NCCD

Audit and Compliance

1. What information is forthcoming on the audit?

Click here for the latest information on audits.

Last updated March 14, 2013.

2. Does my agency have to audit exactly one third of its facilities each year? We are on an ACA audit schedule and ACA does not audit exactly one third of our agencies per year. Do we need to change the auditing schedule to comply with PREA?

Standard 115.401 discusses the audit frequency and timeframes and specifies that the agency shall ensure that each facility operated by the agency, or by a private organization on behalf of the agency, is audited at least once during each three-year period. The standards require an audit during each one-year period of at least one third of each facility type (prison, jail, juvenile facility, overnight lockup, and community confinement facility) operated by an agency, or by a private organization on behalf of an agency. DOJ is still determining potential coordination between ACA audits and PREA audits; in the future, the PREA and ACA audits may work in tandem. However, regardless of any such coordination, agencies must audit one third of each type of facility as specified in Standard 115.401 (b), irrespective of the timing of any ACA audit schedule.

Last updated February 7, 2013.

3. What is the minimum period of time, prior to the start of an audit, that an agency needs to demonstrate compliance with the standards in order to achieve favorable audit findings? For example, if an agency can demonstrate it is in compliance on a specific standard for 30 days prior to the audit, but not the eight months prior to the audit, is the agency considered compliant?

DOJ recognizes that audits conducted toward the beginning of the first audit cycle, which begins August 20, 2013, will take into consideration the fact that facilities will have spent a significant period of time institutionalizing the standards. By contrast, a short period of compliance during the end of the audit review period (meaning closer to August 2014 or thereafter) would not be sufficient to achieve compliance. DOJ is working with the PRC to define specific measures auditors will use to assess compliance. Additional information will be forthcoming soon. Additionally, pursuant to PREA Standard 115.404(d), facilities that auditors find not in compliance with provisions of PREA have an automatic 180-day corrective action period during which auditors will work with agencies to remedy and verify remedial action for any deficiencies. This process provides additional time for facilities to achieve compliance before the auditor issues a final audit determination.

Last updated March 14, 2013.

4. Please provide recommendations for identifying an auditor while maintaining appropriate independence from the state criminal justice department. What role, if any, should the state criminal justice department play in identifying the auditor? Will the DOJ publish a list of certified PREA auditors?

Prospective auditors will apply to be PREA-certified auditors. Only DOJ can certify auditors. In order to be certified, auditors must 1) meet a number of qualifications; 2) submit to a criminal records background check; and 3) pass DOJ-developed auditor training. DOJ holds auditor trainings approximately every other month throughout calendar year 2014. For exact dates click here. A complete list of PREA-certified auditors is maintained publicly on the PRC website here.

DOJ has not placed restrictions on how agencies choose auditors. Each agency should develop its own process, consistent with PREA Standard 115.402, which provides that 1) the auditor cannot be part of, or under the authority of, the agency (but may be part of, or authorized by, the relevant state or local government); 2) an auditor cannot be a person who has received financial compensation from the agency being audited (except for compensation received for conducting prior PREA audits) within three years prior to the agency’s retention of the auditor; and 3) the agency cannot employ, contract with, or otherwise financially compensate the auditor for three years subsequent to the agency’s retention of the auditor, with the exception of contracting for subsequent PREA audits.

Last updated March 14, 2013. 


5. What constitutes “overnight” for purposes of PREA Standard 115.193, which states that “[a]udits need not be conducted of individual lockups that are not utilized to house detainees overnight?”

As a general matter, the term “overnight” is construed as a period of seven or more continuous hours between 8:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. In situations where the facility has only a remote chance of meeting the above time period threshold, or does so only in rare circumstances (less than one time per month on average), the facility will not be considered “overnight.”

Last updated March 26, 2014

6. How long must the documents that auditors relied on for making audit determinations be retained?

These documents must be retained for 12 months following the deadline for any agency audit appeal. Because audit appeals must be lodged within 90 days of the auditor’s final report, auditors must retain these documents for 15 months following the issuance of the final audit report. Longer document retention may be required in particular instances if so requested by the US Department of Justice.

Last updated March 26, 2014

7. Can PREA auditors engage support staff to assist with completing PREA audits? 

PREA auditors may employ staff to provide assistance, including conducting interviews, but the DOJ-certified auditor is ultimately responsible for the final audit. In addition, the certified auditor is required to be present for, and supervise, the entirety of the onsite portion of the audit; to be the counterparty in an agency’s contractual engagement for the conduct of the audit; and to sign and certify the interim and final audit reports.  Failure to adequately supervise such support staff could have consequences for the responsible auditor, up to and including decertification by the Department of Justice.  

Last updated December 5, 2013.

8. Is reciprocal auditing conducted by employees of two confinement agencies permissible?

An auditor who is employed by one correctional agency may not conduct an audit of another correctional agency if an auditor employed at the time by the latter agency has concluded an audit of the former agency within the prior twelve months.

Last updated July 9, 2013.

9. I understand that reciprocal auditing is not permitted, but what about “circular auditing?”

Circular auditing, in which a consortium of three or more States, or three or more local jurisdictions, agrees to perform audits at facilities in other consortium States, is permissible, with a few caveats. First, the circular auditing schedule must be developed so that no audits would be considered impermissible reciprocal audits (see FAQ #8 under Audits and Compliance section of FAQ).  Second, no audits can be allowed in cases in which the auditor’s agency contracts for space in the facility being audited.  

Last updated December 5, 2013.

10. What are the financial consequences to a state if it is not in compliance with the standards?

The PREA statute provides that a state whose governor does not certify full compliance with the standards is subject to the loss of five percent of any DOJ grant funds that it would otherwise receive for prison purposes, unless the governor submits an assurance that such five percent will be used only for the purpose of enabling the state to achieve and certify full compliance with the standards in future years. 42 U.S.C. § 15607(e). For more information on the certification process, click here to access the letter sent from the Department of Justice to all state governors

Last updated March 14, 2013.

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