Through a cooperative agreement between BJA and Impact Justice

Frequently Asked Questions

The final Department of Justice PREA Standards became effective on August 20, 2012.  Since then, DOJ, which was responsible for promulgating the final Standards, has provided interpretive guidance in the form of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to address questions of first impression when they raise issues that are broadly relevant to the application and interpretation of the Standards. On this page, you will find all FAQs issued by DOJ to date. DOJ will continue to meet and resolve questions of first impression and the guidance it develops will be posted as it becomes available.

Please note that Standards referenced throughout this FAQ often apply to multiple sets of PREA Standards. Along with different standard numbers, the different sets of standards use different terminology to refer to the population they house including “inmate,” “detainee,” and “resident.” When referencing a standard that applies equally to all facilities covered under PREA, the language in the question and answer will, unless specified, refer to the Adult Prisons & Jails standard numbers and use the term “inmate” to refer generally to the populations in those facilities. The FAQ search functionality uses the standard numbering from the Adult Prisons and Jails, regardless of the specific setting. When a standard is selected, the search will identify all FAQs related to that standard across all standard settings.

When selecting filters below, you may select multiple categories or standard numbers by holding “Ctrl” (or “Command” for Macs) before making a selection. Press “Clear” to begin a new search.

The “Expand All” link will reveal all FAQ search results. To print the results, use the "Print Selection" button, which expands all of them automatically in the printed document. If you want to see all unfiltered results, use the "Clear" button to remove previous selections.

Search FAQs

Mar 25, 2015
Q:

Does the use of a virtual scanner by an opposite-gender staff person violate the prohibition against cross-gender viewing and/or cross-gender strip searches?

A:

Section 115.15(a) states, “The facility shall not conduct cross-gender strip searches or cross-gender visual body cavity searches (meaning a search of the anal or genital opening) except in exigent circumstances or when performed by medical practitioners.” The regulations define “strip search” as “a search that requires a person to remove or arrange some or all clothing so as to permit a visual inspection of the person’s breasts, buttocks, or genitalia.” See standard 115.5. The standards also state, “The facility shall implement policies and procedures that enable inmates to shower, perform bodily functions, and change clothing without nonmedical staff of the opposite gender reviewing their breasts, buttocks, or genitalia, except in exigent circumstances.” See standard 115.15(d).

Whether or not a virtual scanner or other electronic search complies with this provision will depend on the technology involved. For example, some technologies provide images similar to an x-ray, with no discernable body contours. Other technologies only provide an image representing a human form, with no actual body images. The cross-gender use of these technologies complies with the PREA standards.

Other technologies can be more detailed and will provide outlines of breasts, buttocks, or genitalia. Cross-gender use of these technologies by non-medical staff would not comply with the PREA standards, unless used with privacy filters that can blur body contours. If used by cross-gender staff during exigent circumstances without the appropriate filters, the search must be documented under standard 115.15(c).

Standard Numbers: 115.15
Categories: Searches, Cross-Gender Supervision
Mar 18, 2015
Q:

When does the obligation under standard 115.283(g) to provide ongoing treatment to a victim of sexual abuse in confinement at no cost to the victim end? Specifically, if a resident of a community confinement facility reports having been sexually abused while in confinement (prison, jail, or in the community confinement facility itself) and requires ongoing medical or mental health care, does the obligation to provide it at no cost to the victim extend beyond the victim’s residence in a community confinement facility? And do the same guidelines apply to prisons and jails under standard 115.83 and juvenile facilities under standard 115.383?

A:

The financial obligation of the community confinement agency/facility to provide ongoing treatment to a victim of sexual abuse in confinement ends with the release of the resident from the facility, even if that victim is still under post-release supervision (i.e., probation or parole). The same guideline applies to prisons and jails under standard 115.83 and juvenile facilities under standard 115.383. That is, the financial obligation of a prison, jail, or juvenile facility to provide ongoing treatment to a victim of sexual abuse in confinement ends with the release of the inmate or resident from the facility.

At a minimum, agencies/facilities must provide, as appropriate, treatment plans and, when necessary, referrals for continued care to sexual abuse victims upon their release from custody, including, but not limited to, mental health treatment plans and mental health practitioner referrals. Agencies/facilities are encouraged to provide sexual abuse victims released from custody with additional referrals to community-based services, including, but not limited to, local victim assistance and compensation programs and health insurance advocates who can assist sexual abuse victims with obtaining Medicaid or other forms of health insurance.

Standard Numbers: 115.83
Categories: Definitions
Mar 18, 2015
Q:

What is the scope of the requirement in standard 115.401(j)? To what extent can and will this provision be enforced?

A:

Relevant Standard:
(j) The auditor shall retain and preserve all documentation (including, e.g., video tapes and interview notes) relied upon in making audit determinations. Such documentation shall be provided to the Department of Justice upon request.

Existing FAQ:
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.

This standard clearly establishes that it is the auditor who is responsible for retaining and preserving all documentation relied upon in making audit determinations. This includes both documentation relied upon in finding that a facility does not comply with a standard, as well as documentation relied upon in finding that a facility does meet or exceed a standard. If an auditor fails to comply with this provision, the auditor will be subject to actions that bear on the auditor’s continued DOJ certification status (e.g., retraining, restrictions on a certification, decertification, or denial of application for recertification).

The Department of Justice is in the process of finalizing an Online PREA Audit Instrument that agencies and auditors may choose to utilize for securely retaining the documents and information that could be used to satisfy the auditor’s document retention pursuant to standard 115.401(j). The following guidance is provisional and subject to change once the Online PREA Audit Instrument becomes available and fully functional:

An auditor “retains and preserves” all documentation when: 1) the auditor has the continued ability to identify and access the documentation for 15 months following the issuance of the final audit report; and 2) the auditor can, upon request, provide the documentation to the Department of Justice or direct that the documentation be provided to the Department of Justice.

Auditors will typically review and evaluate documentation in two separate circumstances: 1) off-site, before conducting an audit (and potentially post-audit, if needed) and 2) on-site, during an audit. Each circumstance is discussed separately below.

A. Documents that an auditor receives off-site, either before or after an audit.

The PREA Compliance Audit Instrument Checklist of Policies/Procedures and Other Documents lists many documents and categories of documents that an auditor may request and receive from the facility or agency pre-audit. This checklist is not exhaustive. The PREA standards clearly state that an auditor “shall be permitted to request and receive copies of any relevant documents (including electronically stored information).” 28 C.F.R. § 115.401(i).

An auditor may also receive pre-audit documents from other sources, including inmates or community members. This category of documents is straightforward: An auditor must retain and preserve any documents that the auditor has physically or electronically received outside of an on-site audit for the 15-month retention period referenced above.

An auditor currently has the following options for preserving this documentation:

paper copies or other physical format (e.g., video);

any electronic format in the auditor’s physical control (e.g., documents scanned to a computer, thumb drive, or disc); and

any secure electronic format that is accessible to the auditor (e.g., the forthcoming Online PREA Audit Instrument or other secure cloud-based storage).

In selecting a combination of one or more of the formats enumerated above, an auditor must ensure that he or she will be able to readily identify and access all documentation as needed for 15 months after the issuance of the final audit report, and be able to provide it upon request by the Department of Justice.

B. Documents that an auditor receives or reviews on-site, during an audit.

The PREA Compliance Audit Instrument Checklist of Policies/Procedures and Other Documents also lists many documents and categories of documents that an auditor will review during the on-site audit. To the extent practicable, auditors are encouraged to employ one or more of the methods listed above in A.1-3 to retain and preserve much of the on-site documentation for the 15-month retention period. However, some documentation may be extremely burdensome to physically copy or scan. An auditor may consider contracting with the agency or facility, whereby the agency or facility maintains physical possession of the documentation but allows the auditor continued access to the documentation, if needed, and the agency or facility also agrees to allow the documentation to be provided to the Department of Justice, if the Department requests the documents pursuant to standard 115.401(j).

This latter option raises several issues:

The auditor must have the ability to identify the documentation. As an initial matter, then, the auditor must take and maintain scrupulous notes regarding which documentation he or she reviewed during the audit. For example, the auditor could note “training files of every employee hired during the year 201X” or list the actual names of each employee whose training file the auditor reviewed. By contrast, a note of “reviewed 15 training files” would not be sufficient to identify the underlying documentation.

Once the auditor has ensured that his or her notes sufficiently identify the documentation, the auditor must ensure that, for the entire retention period, he or she has the continued ability to identify the documentation. That is, the auditor must understand the facility or agency’s record-keeping system so that the auditor could readily identify, find, and retrieve the documentation for up to 15 months after submission of the final audit report.

Once the auditor has ensured preliminary and continued identification of the documents, the auditor must ensure that he or she will have continued access to the identified documents during the 15-month retention period. The auditor may choose to ensure his or her continued access to the documentation by adding a clause to the auditing contract requiring the agency to provide the on-site documentation to the auditor and the Department of Justice upon written request with reasonable notice during the 15-month retention period.

Finally, the auditor must ensure that he or she can provide the documentation to the Department of Justice upon request, either personally or by directing the agency or facility to do so within the 15-month retention period. Again, the auditor may accomplish this by adding a contract clause stating that the agency or facility agrees to provide the identified documentation to either the auditor or the Department of Justice.

It is important to note that, regardless of any contractual relationship the auditor may enter into with an agency or facility, it is the auditor who retains ultimate responsibility for his or her compliance with this standard. If an auditor fails to retain and preserve all relevant documentation for the 15-month retention period, or fails to provide the documentation to the Department of Justice upon request, he or she will face actions that could bear on the auditor’s continued DOJ certification status.

Standard Numbers: 115.401
Categories: Auditing, Audit Process, Information Sharing
Mar 18, 2015
Q:

How long must an agency and facility be in compliance with a particular standard or provision before an auditor should find that a facility meets a standard?

A:

A demonstrated record of sustained compliance with a standard during the one-year period preceding the audit will be sufficient to demonstrate audit compliance. Shorter periods of compliance may or may not result in an auditor’s finding of meets or exceeds a standard subject to the guidance below.

In general, auditors will need to see that compliance with a particular standard has become “institutionalized” at the facility. That is to say that a “quick fix” on the day of an on-site tour should almost never be sufficient for the auditor to find compliance. A short period of compliance during an otherwise sustained period of noncompliance should generally result in a finding of “does not meet standard.” By contrast, a discrete period of noncompliance during a period of otherwise sustained compliance should not, by itself, result in a finding of “does not meet standard.” The length of time required to demonstrate sustained compliance will depend upon the requirements of the individual provision being assessed. In any event, the auditor should be provided with sufficient evidence that the facility’s technical and short-term compliance has been “institutionalized” at the facility.

The following is an example of institutionalization: If a facility or an auditor determines that a new external reporting mechanism is required to comply with standard 115.51(b), the mere creation of a satisfactory avenue for external reporting will effect several other standard requirements. The auditor may determine that the new external reporting mechanism should be included in the written policies outlining the agency’s approach to preventing, detecting, and responding to sexual abuse. See 28 C.F.R. § 115.11(a). The auditor may determine that employees, contractors, and volunteers need to be trained on the new reporting mechanism. See 28 C.F.R. §§ 115.31 and 115.32. This will generally require modification, approval, and implementation of the training curriculum. Inmates must receive information on the new reporting mechanism during intake and as part of the 30-day comprehensive inmate education. See 28 C.F.R. § 115.33. The auditor may determine that the inmate education curriculum must be modified, approved, and implemented before these requirements are satisfied. Further, because existing inmates had not been previously provided with comprehensive inmate education setting forth an appropriate avenue for external reporting, all inmates must be informed of the new reporting mechanism. See 28 C.F.R. § 115.33(c). If the new external reporting mechanism also serves as the avenue for the facility to receive third-party reports, then the new reporting mechanism must be reflected on the publicly distributed information pursuant to standard 115.54.

It is important to note that, while a facility corrective action period may last for up to 180 days following the auditor’s issuance of the interim audit report, some corrective action will not require the full 180 days to complete and verify. Indeed, minor or technical violations with the standards may be remedied prior to the 30-day deadline for the auditor to issue the interim audit report—if, unlike the example provided above, the standard at issue does not implicate other related standards.

The standards require that each facility be audited at least once during the three-year audit cycle. See 28 C.F.R. § 115.401(a). Further, the standards require an auditor to review, at a minimum, a sampling of relevant documents and information for the most recent one-year period. See 28 C.F.R. § 115.401(g). Prior to the start of the first audit cycle, the Department of Justice issued the following guidance on this question:

DOJ recognizes that audits conducted toward the beginning of the first audit cycle, which began 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. See Existing FAQ.

This revised and expanded FAQ includes the “additional information” referenced in that previously issued FAQ.

Standard Numbers: 115.401
Categories: Auditing, Compliance
Feb 19, 2015
Q:

In regard to standards 115.21, 115.22, 115.34, and 115.71, what is required of agencies being audited, auditors, and external entities that conduct investigations of sexual abuse and harassment, and how will these obligations be audited?

A:

There has been confusion in the field and among the auditor community about the requirements of standards 115.21, 115.22, 115.34, and 115.71 as they pertain to investigators who are external to the agency being audited. The following guidance is offered to auditors and agencies subject to a PREA audit in order to clarify what obligations auditors and audited agencies have vis-à-vis those provisions that obligate external investigative agencies to comply.

The information in this FAQ is consistent with and expands upon the FAQ that focuses on whether an auditor can find an entity being audited to be compliant with the PREA Standards if an entity external to the confining agency, which conducts criminal investigations of sexual abuse in the facility being audited, is not compliant with the external investigative entity’s obligations under the standards. To review this FAQ, please click here.

Responsibilities of Audited Agencies and Auditors under Standard 115.21

Under standard 115.21, the agency (a private, federal, state, county, or other local entity) being audited must demonstrate to the auditor that it has attempted to gain compliance from an external entity that conducts criminal investigations of sexual abuse with requirements (a) through (e) of that standard—that is, the agency being audited must have requested that the external entity responsible for investigations comply with all those provisions described in (a) through (e) of standard 115.21.

Auditors may find that the private, federal, state, county, or other local entity being audited has attempted to confirm that an external investigator is complying with (a) through (e) of the standard, and was unable to get such confirmation. In that case, the agency being audited can be found compliant with the standard, if they have documented these efforts.

Responsibilities of Audited Agencies and Auditors under Standard 115.22

The requirements of standard 115.22 work in a way that is consistent with standard 115.21. If an external entity conducts criminal investigations of sexual abuse for the agency (a private, federal, state, county, or other local entity) being audited, the agency must have a policy in place that makes explicit both the responsibilities of the agency in a criminal investigation and the corresponding responsibilities of the external investigating entity. The agency being audited also must publish that policy on its website or make it available through other means if the agency has no website of its own. There is no exception here—the policy must be in place, as it is an agency policy, not the policy of the external investigator, and the agency can describe the respective roles and responsibilities in its own policy, regardless of whether the external investigating entity has a corresponding policy of its own.

Auditors must confirm that a policy is in place that makes explicit both the responsibilities of the agency in a criminal investigation and the corresponding responsibilities of the external investigating entity, and that the agency has published that policy on its website or has made it available through other means if the agency has no website of its own. 


Responsibilities of Audited Agencies and Auditors under Standard 115.34

Standard 115.34 describes the specialized training that the agency being audited must provide to its investigators in order to be PREA compliant. This standard further requires that, “any State entity or Department of Justice component that investigates sexual abuse in confinement settings must provide such training to its agents and investigators who conduct such investigations.”

The obligation of the agency being audited is to provide the required specialized training to its own investigators if they conduct sexual abuse investigations, whether administrative or criminal. External State and Department of Justice investigative entities that conduct investigations of sexual abuse in confinement bear a separate obligation to train their agents and investigators per the standard, and that obligation does not lie with the agency being audited. Auditors should not assess compliance with these training requirements by external entities.

Responsibilities of Audited Agencies and Auditors under Standard 115.71

Standard 115.71(a)-(j) sets out the requirements for both administrative and criminal investigations of sexual abuse and sexual harassment, and describes when, how, and by what standards those investigations should be conducted. standard 115.71(a)-(j) also reiterates the requirement that investigators who conduct those investigations must have received specialized training described in standard 115.34.

Standard 115.71(k) requires that any external State entity or Department of Justice component that conducts these investigations in a confinement setting do so according to the requirements laid out in this standard.

Standard 115.71(l) requires that the facility being audited cooperate with any outside investigative agency conducting sexual abuse investigations in the facility and must remain informed about the progress of the investigation.

The obligations under standard 115.71 of the agency being audited are to ensure that:

Its own investigators comply with this standard;
It cooperates with external investigators; and
It remain informed about any investigation being conducted by external investigators.

It is the responsibility of auditors to assess whether these obligations are being met by the agency being audited.

The obligation placed on external State entities and Department of Justice component investigators conducting sexual abuse investigations in a confinement facility to comply with the requirements laid out in this standard rests with the State entity or Department of Justice component. Auditors should not assess compliance with these obligations by external entities. 


Summary of Implications for Auditors

Consistent with the requirements stated above of standards 115.21,115.22, 115.34, and 115.71, and as articulated in the FAQ that can be accessed by clicking here, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has determined that auditors should not:


Assess whether external entities that conduct criminal investigations of sexual abuse and sexual harassment for the agency being audited are in compliance with the PREA Standards. The sole focus of the audit is to determine whether the agency (a private, federal, state, county, or other local entity) being audited is in compliance with the standards.

Include in interim or final audit reports information about compliance with the standards on the part of external entities that conduct criminal investigations of sexual abuse and sexual harassment. The sole focus of these reports is to document whether the agency (a private, federal, state, county, or other local entity) is in compliance with the standards.

Affirmative Obligations of External Entities that Conduct Investigations to Comply with the PREA Standards

Standards 115.21, 115.22, 115.34, and 115.71 do impose affirmative obligations to comply on both external State entities and Department of Justice (DOJ) components that conduct sexual abuse investigations in confinement. Nothing in this guidance changes that obligation. However, confirming compliance with these standards by external entities during a corrections facility/agency audit is beyond the scope of that audit. DOJ is working to develop tools to assist these external entities, state and territorial governors who are responsible for certifying full compliance with the PREA Standards, and others to assess whether these external entities are in compliance with their affirmative obligations under the standards.

Standard Numbers: 115.21, 115.22, 115.34, 115.71
Categories: Auditing, Compliance, Investigations
Jan 14, 2015
Q:

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?

A:

Standard 115.401 focuses on audit frequency, timeframes, and specifies, and requires 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.

There are two other FAQs that focus on what happens if an agency does not audit exactly one-third of its facilities each year, as follows:

Please click here to read the FAQ that describes what happens to an agency’s three-year audit timeline if it fails to have the required minimum of one-third of its facilities audited by August 19, 2014.

Please click here to read the FAQ that addresses whether there is a time limit to the number of years that a state can submit an Assurance without a reduction in Department of Justice (DOJ) grant funding.

While agencies are not prohibited from coordinating the timing of ACA audits with PREA audits, 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.

Standard Numbers: 115.401
Categories: Auditing
Jan 14, 2015
Q:What methods of communication may satisfy the external reporting mechanisms required by standards 115.51, 115.251, and 115.351 (b)? What are the required parameters of anonymity set forth by the standards for inmates who wish to make such reports anonymously?
A:

The standards do not specify the precise reporting mechanisms required to satisfy these standards. However, the PREA Notice of Final Rule (NFR) makes clear that the Department intended to provide agencies with a degree of flexibility with respect to methods of reporting. See 77 Fed. Reg. 37156-57 (June 20, 2012). Accordingly, so long as the avenue(s) for external reporting provides all inmates (and residents) access to an external reporting entity allowing inmates to communicate in a manner that does not reveal the substance of the communication to agency or facility officials, and safeguards to the greatest extent possible the fact that the inmate utilized such mechanism, the reporting method may satisfy this requirement. A telephone, inmate correspondence, and email all may be acceptable avenues for inmates to contact the appropriate external entity.

The NFR also makes clear that the standards require the external reporting entity to accept anonymous reports, and also requires the entity to conceal the identity of the reporting inmate from agency and facility officials when the inmate requests anonymity. Supra. However, if the external entity knows the identity of the reporting inmate and the entity has a legal obligation to report allegations of sexual abuse to another external entity (such as law enforcement officials, or a social services agency in the event of a child abuse allegation), then the external reporting entity may reveal the identity of the reporting inmate to another external entity if required by law.

Finally, because the standards expressly permit the reporting inmate to maintain anonymity with respect to agency and facility officials, agencies must take great care to avoid reporting mechanisms that would necessarily expose the identity of the reporting inmate to facility staff and administrators.

Illustration One: A facility provides, as its only avenue for inmate external reporting, a mailing address to an external agency willing and able to fulfill the requirements of the standard. All regular outgoing inmate correspondence is subject to opening and inspection by facility staff. Further, all outgoing inmate correspondence must include a return address for the inmate including the inmate’s name.

To comply with the standard, the facility should ensure that inmate correspondence addressed to the designated external reporting entity remains unopened. Further, if the facility requires the name of the sending inmate on the letter, the facility should maintain strict policies and procedures that prohibit mailroom staff from revealing to other staff or administrators the fact that the named inmate sent correspondence to the sexual abuse reporting entity.

Illustration Two: A facility maintains a disciplinary isolation unit where inmates have extremely limited access to common areas and programming. Generally, in order for inmates in this unit to obtain access to the telephone, email, or materials for composing and sending correspondence, the inmate must request access from security staff supervising the housing unit.

To comply with the standard, all inmates (including those inmates in restrictive housing) must be afforded an avenue reasonably designed to safeguard knowledge within the facility about the fact that an inmate is making an external report of sexual abuse.

If correspondence is the only external reporting mechanism for inmates, then the facility may provide inmates in this unit with regular and timely access to a “lock box” rather than requiring the inmate to provide the correspondence to the unit’s security staff. Such a lock box should only be accessible by a designated agency official or selected officials. Similarly, if a hotline is the only external reporting mechanism, then configuration of the telephone should not make obvious that any inmate using the telephone system is making an allegation of sexual abuse. For example, if the hotline is a dedicated phone, then the phone should also be used for other purposes besides reporting sexual abuse.

Standard Numbers: 115.51
Categories: Definitions
Oct 22, 2014
Q:

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?

A:

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).

Standard Numbers: 115.31
Categories: Training
Oct 22, 2014
Q:When a strip search or visual body cavity search is conducted by same-gender staff or medical staff of either gender, what restrictions are there on supervisors or other staff and personnel of the opposite gender observing the search?
A:

Opposite-gender supervisors, staff, or other nonmedical personnel should generally not be permitted to observe the conduct of a same-gender strip search or visual body cavity search (absent exigent circumstances). In cases where supervisors who are opposite gender to the inmate being strip searched (either live or via video monitoring) are required to supervise or observe the strip search, a facility should use a privacy screen or other similar device to obstruct cross-gender viewing of an inmate’s breasts, buttocks, or genitalia. The privacy screen or other similar device need only be of sufficient height and position to obstruct viewing of the listed areas. In cases where other opposite-gender staff or personnel are in the vicinity of the strip search, similar precautions should also be used, unless the opposite-gender staff or personnel are of sufficient distance where the contours of the breasts, genitalia, or buttocks are not readily distinguishable. This interpretative guidance is not intended to require gender-specific staff posts.

Standard Numbers: 115.15
Categories: Searches, Cross-Gender Supervision
Oct 22, 2014
Q:

How is “housing unit” defined for the purposes of the PREA Standards?

A:

The question has been raised in particular as it relates to facilities that have adjacent or interconnected units.

The most common concept of a housing unit is architectural. The generally agreed-upon definition is a space that is enclosed by physical barriers accessed through one or more doors of various types, including commercial-grade swing doors, steel sliding doors, interlocking sally port doors, etc. In addition to the primary entrance and exit, additional doors are often included to meet life safety codes. The unit contains sleeping space, sanitary facilities (including toilets, lavatories, and showers), and a dayroom or leisure space in differing configurations.

Many facilities are designed with modules or pods clustered around a control room. This multiple-pod design provides the facility with certain staff efficiencies and economies of scale. At the same time, the design affords the flexibility to separately house inmates of differing security levels, or who are grouped by some other operational or service scheme. Generally, the control room is enclosed by security glass, and in some cases, this allows inmates to see into neighboring pods. However, observation from one unit to another is usually limited by angled site lines. In some cases, the facility has prevented this entirely by installing one-way glass.

Both the architectural design and functional use of these multiple pods indicate that they are managed as distinct housing units.

Standard Numbers: 115.15
Categories: Cover-Up Rule, Definitions