Do employees who have contact with inmates need to be trained pursuant to standard 115.31 prior to being placed in positions that put them in contact with inmates?
Standard 115.31 outlines the topics on which all employees who have contact with inmates must be trained. All employees must receive training on these topics prior to having contact with inmates, except in very rare circumstances where a slight delay may be reasonable and the employee will not have unsupervised contact with inmates until the required training occurs. If, for example, a new employee who has not yet been trained finds himself or herself in a first-responder situation after a sexual assault has occurred, the consequences for the victim and for the investigation could be very serious and possibly beyond remedy. If the new employee does not know how to preserve physical evidence and finds himself or herself in a situation where there is physical evidence of a sexual assault, that evidence could be irrevocably lost because of the individual’s lack of training.
The Department does, however, recognize that in some agencies and facilities, comprehensive PREA training that goes beyond the basic training required in standard 115.31 may be conducted periodically and, as a result, agencies and facilities would have to leave open positions vacant for long periods of time if they waited to fill them until new staff members participated in comprehensive PREA training. The Department recognizes that open positions that are left vacant for long periods of time may have a negative impact on facility safety and security.
In light of these challenges, the Department has determined that while training on the specific topics outlined in standard 115.31 must occur before new staff members have contact with inmates (except as outlined above), agencies and facilities can implement effective ways to ensure that such training occurs, so that vacant positions are not left open for long periods of time. For example, agencies and facilities may offer pre-service orientation training that focuses on a host of issues critical to interacting with inmates and supporting safety and security in confinement settings, including all of the topics identified in standard 115.31. While more comprehensive, in-depth training may be provided later, the pre-service training must cover all of the topics identified in standard 115.31, including providing new staff members with a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities related to preventing, detecting, and responding to sexual abuse in the confinement settings. Such pre-service orientation training can be reinforced and enhanced by on-the-job training, where experienced and knowledgeable staff members partner and work with new hires to educate them further about the topics in standard 115.31. More comprehensive PREA training then could be provided at the next opportunity, but no later than the time required under standard 115.31(c).