1. Prevention Planning

The prevention planning standards cover a variety of topics designed to aid in the prevention of sexual abuse in confinement. These topics include zero tolerance, the PREA coordinator, contracting with other entities for confinement, supervision and monitoring, juveniles and youthful inmates or detainees, limits to cross-gender viewing and searches, inmates, detainees, and residents with disabilities or who are limited English proficient, hiring and promotion decisions, and upgrades to facilities and technologies.

STANDARDS. Click on the following links to access the prevention planning standards for Adult Prisons and Jails, Community Confinement Facilities, Juvenile Facilities, and Lockups.


Prevention Planning - Issues - Supervision and monitoring in adult facilities

Supervision and monitoring in adult facilities

For adult facilities, Standard 115.13/115.113/115.213 does not include concrete staffing requirements nor does it require direct supervision. However, agencies must provide staffing that ensures adequate supervision, taking into consideration several factors in calculating adequate staffing levels and determining the need for video monitoring. Factors for prisons and jails include:

  • Generally accepted detention and correctional practices;
  • Any judicial findings of inadequacy;
  • Any findings of inadequacy from federal investigative agencies;
  • Any findings of inadequacy from internal or external oversight bodies;
  • All components of the facility’s physical plant (including ‘‘blind-spots’’ or areas where staff or inmates may be isolated);
  • The composition of the inmate/detainee/resident population (such as gender, age, security level, and length of time individuals reside in the facility);
  • The number and placement of supervisory staff;
  • Institution programs occurring on a particular shift;
  • Any applicable state or local laws, regulations, or standards;
  • The prevalence of substantiated and unsubstantiated incidents of sexual abuse; and
  • Any other relevant factors.

The listed factors are not exclusive; facilities should consider additional issues that are common across correctional facilities and pertinent to the characteristics of each specific facility, as well as findings from reports and empirical studies relevant to sexual abuse issued by DOJ, academia, or professional sources. The final determination as to adequate staffing levels remains at the discretion of the facility or agency administration.

A shorter list of factors for consideration is required for lockups and community confinement facilities, specifically:

  • The physical layout of the facility;
  • The composition of the detainee/resident population (such as gender, age, security level, and length of time individuals reside in the facility);
  • The prevalence of substantiated and unsubstantiated incidents of sexual abuse; and
  • Any other relevant factors.

At least annually, or more frequently if necessary, facilities must reassess, determine, and document whether adjustments to the staffing plan or resources devoted to supervision and monitoring are needed, making any necessary adjustments.

Standard 115.13 requires prisons and jails to use ‘‘best efforts to comply on a regular basis’’ with the staffing plan. While this language does not appear in 115.113 or 115.213, all adult facilities must document and justify deviations from the staffing plan. Full compliance with the plan is not required to achieve compliance with the standard. DOJ determined that requiring ‘‘best efforts’’ is more appropriate to avoid penalizing agencies that unsuccessfully seek to obtain additional funds.

Prevention Planning - Issues - Supervision and monitoring in juvenile facilities

Supervision and monitoring in juvenile facilities

For secure juvenile facilities, Standard 115.313 requires a minimum staffing ratio of 1:8 for supervision during resident waking hours and 1:16 during resident sleeping hours. These ratios include only security staff. Agencies may depart from these minimum ratios during limited and discrete exigent circumstances, which must be fully documented for audit purposes.

Non-secure juvenile facilities are not required to maintain a minimum staffing ratio.

In order to provide agencies with sufficient time to readjust staffing levels and, if necessary, request additional funding, any facility that, as of June 20, 2012, is not already obligated by law, regulation, or judicial consent decree to maintain the required staffing ratios shall have until October 1, 2017, to achieve compliance. Additionally, DOJ invites public comment on 115.313(c) though the Final Rule is still in effect.

Although DOJ encourages the use of continuous, direct supervision, the standards do not require direct supervision in secure juvenile facilities in recognition that major, costly renovations would be required to adapt some physical plants to the direct supervision model. For more on this issue, please visit the PRC FAQ page.

For youth housed in adult facilities, however, the standards are clear in their requirements regarding direct supervision. See youthful inmates below.

Prevention Planning - Issues - Youthful inmates

Youthful inmates

The standards define a youthful inmate as “any person under the age of 18 who is under adult court supervision and incarcerated or detained in a prison or jail.” Standard 115.14 requires adult prisons and jails to house youthful inmates separately from adult inmates. However, agencies may manage this population outside of a housing unit if supervised directly by staff.

Facilities and agencies have flexibility in complying with this standard. For example, they can:

  1. Confine all youthful inmates to a separate housing unit;
  2. Transfer youthful inmates to a facility within the agency that enables them to be confined to a separate unit;
  3. Enter into a cooperative agreement with an outside jurisdiction to enable compliance; or
  4. Cease confining youthful inmates in adult facilities as a matter of policy or law.

Agencies may, of course, combine these approaches as they see fit. For more on this issue, please visit the PRC FAQ page.

Prevention Planning - Issues - Cross-gender supervision

Cross-gender supervision

At its most basic, Standard 115.15/115.115/115.215/115.315 has three parts.

  1. All cross-gender strip and body cavity searches are prohibited except in exigent circumstances. For prisons, jails, and community confinement facilities, the standard also disallows the use of cross-gender pat searches for female inmates and residents. The juvenile facility standard, 115.315, further prohibits cross-gender pat searches of both male and female residents except in exigent circumstances.
  2. Opposite-gender staff members must “knock and announce” when entering a housing unit. More generally, facilities are required to implement policies and procedures that enable inmates, detainees, and residents to shower, perform bodily functions, and change clothing without nonmedical staff of the opposite gender viewing their breasts, buttocks, or genitalia, except in exigent circumstances or when such viewing is incidental to routine cell checks.
  3. Intrusive searches for the purpose of determining gender for transgender or intersex inmates, detainees, or residents are prohibited.

In order to mitigate agency burdens for implementing the staffing changes that the PREA standards may require for jails, prisons, and community confinement facilities, DOJ has provided that agencies will have additional time to comply with this particular standard (August 2015, or August 2017 for facilities whose rated capacity is less than 50 inmates). For more on this issue, please visit the PRC FAQ page.

Prevention Planning - Issues - Hiring and promotion decisions

Hiring and promotion decisions

Standard 115.17/115.117/115.217/115.317 prohibits agencies from hiring or promoting any employee or contractor who may have contact with inmates, detainees, or residents who:

  1. Has engaged in sexual abuse in a prison, jail, lockup, community confinement facility, juvenile facility, or other institution;1
  2. Has been convicted of engaging in forced or coerced sexual activity in the community; or
  3. Has been civilly or administratively adjudicated to have engaged in forced or coerced sexual activity in the community.

The standard also requires agencies to consider any incidents of sexual harassment in making decisions regarding employees and contractors and to provide information regarding such incidents to possible future institutional employers unless prohibited by law. The standard includes requirements for obtaining this information about prospective and current employees and contractors, including mandating that at least every five years agencies conduct criminal background checks of current employees and contractors who have contact with inmates, detainees, or residents. Additionally, for juvenile settings, Standard 115.317 requires a check of any child abuse registry maintained by the state or locality in which the employee would work.

[1] National Standards to Prevent, Detect, and Respond to Prison Rape, 77 Fed. Reg. 119 (June 20, 2012) http://www.prearesourcecenter.org/sites/default/files/library/2012-12427.pdf; For the operative definition of “institution,” see the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. §1997.


Prevention Planning - Resources - General


Prevention Planning - Resources - Adult Prisons and Jails

Adult Prisons and Jails

Prevention Planning - Resources - Community Confinement Facilities

Community Confinement Facilities

Prevention Planning - Resources - Juvenile Facilities

Juvenile Facilities