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What is the difference between “anonymous” reporting as used in PREA Standard 115.51(b), “confidential” as used in PREA Standard 115.53, and “privately report” as used in PREA Standard 115.51(d)?

February 6, 2020

What is the difference between “anonymous” reporting as used in PREA Standard 115.51(b), “confidential” as used in PREA Standard 115.53, and “privately report” as used in PREA Standard 115.51(d)?

PREA Standard 51(b) requires agencies to “provide at least one way for inmates to report abuse or harassment to a public or private entity or office that is not part of the agency, and that is able to receive and immediately forward inmate reports of sexual abuse and sexual harassment to agency officials, allowing the inmate to remain anonymous upon request.” The term “anonymous” as used here means that the inmate must have the ability (at the inmate’s request) to keep his or her identity protected from disclosure to agency and facility personnel. However, the external reporting entity must be able to immediately forward the substance of the allegation back to agency officials. Also, when the inmate does not affirmatively request anonymity, the external reporting entity must be able to immediately report the entirety of the allegation back to agency officials. See also, https://www.prearesourcecenter.org/node/3285.

PREA Standard 115.53(a) requires facilities to “provide inmates with access to outside victim advocates for emotional support services related to sexual abuse…” and “shall enable reasonable communication between inmates and these organizations and agencies, in as confidential manner as possible.” The Department of Justice acknowledges that a limited number of agency and facility officials may need to know the identity of the inmate utilizing these services. For example, when these services are provided in-person through the inmate visitation process, certain facility personnel will need to know the nature of the visits. However, in these instances, staff should protect this information from internal dissemination to the greatest extent possible. In addition, it is almost always possible for facilities to maintain complete confidentiality with respect to the substance of communications between the inmate and the outside emotional support service provider. In addition, PREA Standard 115.53(b) requires facilities to “inform inmates, prior to giving them access, of the extent to which such communications will be monitored and the extent to which reports of abuse will be forwarded to authorities in accordance with mandatory reporting laws.”

PREA Standard 115.51(d) requires agencies to “provide a method for staff to privately report sexual abuse and sexual harassment of inmates.” The term “privately report” as used here requires that staff must have an avenue to make a report in a manner that other staff (without a need-to-know) are not made aware of such a report.

As stated in the PREA Notice of Final Rule: “In requiring agencies to provide a method for staff to report sexual abuse and sexual harassment ‘privately,’ the Department means that agencies must enable staff to report abuse or harassment directly to an investigator, administrator, or other agency entity without the knowledge of the staff member’s direct colleagues or immediate supervisor.” In addition, “[a] private reporting mechanism may provide a level of comfort to staff who are concerned about retaliation, especially where the staff member reports misconduct committed by a colleague.” See 77 Fed. Reg. 37157 (June 20, 2012).        

Compliance
115.51
115.53