The PMO is pleased to announce the release of the PREA Auditor Handbook, a critical new resource for PREA auditors and the field. The purpose of the PREA Auditor Handbook, available here, is to articulate the requirements of DOJ PREA auditor certification, establish standards of ethical auditor conduct, detail a rigorous, practice-based audit methodology, hold auditors accountable for high standards of audit quality and integrity, and provide transparency to key stakeholders regarding the PREA audit process and expectations of auditors.
Although this resource was developed primarily for auditors to guide and direct their role in the PREA audit process, the PREA Auditor Handbook includes important information for agencies and facilities preparing for and undergoing a PREA audit. The following topics are of particular relevance:
- Contracting for a PREA audit. This section details important information regarding the types of auditing arrangements available to auditors, what should and should not be included in an audit contract, and rules regarding auditor compensation.
- Auditor code of conduct. The Auditor Code of Conduct section of the PREA Auditor Handbook identifies general principles that govern the professional and personal conduct of auditors and the underlying rules that support these principles. Auditors are expected to uphold the core principles of integrity, objectivity, confidentiality, and proficiency and professionalism in both their professional and personal conduct.
- Conflicts of interest. DOJ-certified PREA auditors have a responsibility to avoid any conflicts of interest, or the appearance of any such conflict. Conflicts of interest may adversely impact an auditor’s ability, or perceived ability, to conduct high quality, reliable, objective, and comprehensive audits. This section of the PREA Auditor Handbook details restrictions on auditors’ ability to conduct audits that raise a conflict of interest, or the appearance of a conflict of interest.
- PREA Audit Process. This section outlines the PREA audit process from start to finish, including the role and expectations of PREA auditors. In contrast to traditional correctional audits, which largely focus on facility and agency policies and procedures, the PREA audit relies on a rigorous, practice-based methodology that assesses whether policies and procedures have been institutionalized. Facilities and agencies should review this section of the PREA Auditor Handbook to know what to expect during each phase of the PREA audit, core activities undertaken by and responsibilities of the auditor, and requirements regarding auditor access to facility/agency documentation and physical plant.
- Planning for corrective action. Noncompliance and corrective action are normal and expected parts of the PREA audit. Recognizing there are several hundred specific requirements in the PREA Standards, it is expected that very few confinement facilities will be in full compliance with all the PREA Standards without undergoing some corrective action. Therefore, agencies and facilities should plan for corrective action and ensure that contracts for PREA audits allow for and support corrective action periods.
- Audit oversight by the PMO. In order to uphold the integrity of the PREA audit process, the PMO has instituted an oversight function to hold auditors accountable for conducting high quality, reliable, objective, and comprehensive PREA audits. Agencies and facilities are encouraged to review this section to understand the consequences for auditors who fail to meet the requirements of their DOJ PREA auditor certification and the impact of the PMO’s audit oversight process. Agencies and facilities are strongly encouraged to report complaints or concerns about auditor conduct using the Auditor Feedback Form located on the PRC website. Such information is critical for maintaining the integrity of the PREA audit function.
Facilities and agencies are strongly encouraged to review the PREA Auditor Handbook to know what to expect from audits and from the auditors with whom they contract.
Please contact the PRC using the Contact Us page on the website with any questions or comments regarding this document.