Q.

What does “separate” mean in the context of the screening standards, which require that agencies shall use screening information to inform housing and programming decisions “with the goal of keeping separate those inmate/residents at high risk of being sexually victimized from those at high risk of being sexually abusive”?

A.

The PREA standards require agencies to obtain and assess information from and about inmates and residents in order to identify individuals who are at a heightened risk of being sexually victimized while in confinement, and those who are at a heightened risk of being sexually abusive while in confinement. The adult prison and jail standards and the community confinement standards specifically require that such screening information be used “with the goal of keeping separate” those inmate/residents at high risk of being sexually victimized from those at high risk of being sexually abusive.” See Standards 115.42(a) and 115.242(a). The meaning of the term “separate” is generally informed by the unique facts and circumstances of a facility, but the goal should be to keep those inmates as separate as reasonably possible

For example, facilities that are comprised of a single dormitory housing unit would be unable to house the two risk categories of inmates in separate housing units. In such a case, inmates at high risk of being abusive and abused should generally be bunked at opposite sides of the dormitory. Additionally, potentially vulnerable inmates should be bunked in areas more likely to receive additional staff supervision.

Similarly, in facilities with a single housing unit, but multi-person cells (two or more inmates per cell), vulnerable inmates should be kept in separate cells from potentially abusive inmates.

By contrast, facilities with multiple housing units provide far more options for keeping vulnerable and abusive inmates separate. In such cases, agencies should generally keep vulnerable inmates in separate housing units from inmates at risk for abusiveness. In cases where there are many housing units (e.g., more than ten), auditors will require compelling justification for any commingling within a housing unit.

In programming, education, and work areas, the goal should also be to keep such inmates separate. The Department of Justice recognizes that such separations may not always be feasible outside of housing units. In those cases, agencies should, at a minimum, prohibit unsupervised contact between vulnerable and potentially abusive inmates. Even supervised contact between these categories of inmates should be accompanied by heightened supervision and safeguards against sexual abuse and sexual harassment.

Standard
Categories
Placement Decisions,
Screening