October 26, 2015

How must agencies “distribute publicly” information on how third-parties can report allegations of sexual abuse and sexual harassment, in accordance with standard 115.54?


Standard 115.54 states, “The agency shall establish a method to receive third-party reports of sexual abuse and sexual harassment and shall distribute publicly information on how to report sexual abuse and sexual harassment on behalf of an inmate.” (emphasis added)

The preamble of the PREA standards Notice of Final Rule states, “[t]he agency may, in its discretion, make such information [about third-party reporting] readily available through a website, posting at the facility, printed pamphlets, and other appropriate means.” See Vol. 77, Federal Register, No. 119, p. 37163. Generally, agencies are posting information about the third-party reporting process on their websites.

Implicit in standard 115.54 is the requirement that the public can reasonably access the information on how to make a report of sexual abuse or sexual harassment on behalf of an inmate. It is not sufficient for an agency to be willing and able to receive such reports. Further, it is not sufficient for the public to have the general ability to utilize generalized agency contact information (such as a main contact number) to make such a report. Rather, the specific methods to make such reports must be readily available and reasonably conspicuous to the public.