For The Prevention, Detection, Response, and
Sexual Abuse in:
Sexual abuse of defendants/offenders, whether adult or juvenile, in community corrections violates the law. It also violates their basic human rights, impedes the likelihood of their successful reentry into the community, and violates the Government’s legal obligation to provide safe and humane community corrections supervision. No sentence or condition of supervision, regardless of the crime, should ever include rape. A core priority of any community corrections agency or facility must be safety, which means protecting the safety of all—the public, the staff, and the defendant/offender population. In recognition of this, Congress formed the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission (NPREC or Commission) to develop national standards that will help eliminate rape and other forms of sexual abuse in community corrections.
The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) of 2003 requires agencies to comply with the national standards proposed by the Commission and approved and promulgated by the Attorney General to eliminate sexual abuse in community corrections. Fundamental to an agency’s success will be its commitment to zero tolerance of sexual abuse—a recognition that sexual abuse in community corrections is unacceptable under any circumstances. Agencies must demonstrate zero tolerance not merely by words and written policy, but through their actions, including what they do to prevent sexual abuse and their response when it occurs.
The standards developed by NPREC are organized as follows:
Not mandatory: tool for tracking compliance
Not mandatory: provides commentary and guidance
Each standard statement contains mandatory requirements. A check box precedes each standard, indicating whether the standard requirements apply to community corrections facilities; pretrial, probation, and parole agencies; or both. Under each standard statement is an assessment checklist. The assessment checklists are designed as a tool for agencies and facilities to self-assess and track their progress toward meeting the standards. They are also meant to be a starting point for the external audit of an agency’s or facility’s compliance with the standards. The agency head, facility head, PREA coordinator, or a designee must complete the assessment checklists for every standard. Although answering “yes” to each checklist item is not mandatory, meeting the requirements in the standard is mandatory. Therefore, when completing a given checklist, if an official answers “no” to a checklist question but believes the agency or facility is meeting the requirements of the standard using a different process or procedure, he or she should explain how the alternative process or procedure meets the standard. The PREA coordinator or other official should attach documentation of compliance with the standard to the checklist unless compliance is self-evident. This documentation will be used in complying with the audit requirement in the standards.
After each assessment checklist is a discussion of the standard. Discussion sections provide explanation for the rationale of the standard and, in some cases, offer guidance for achieving compliance with it. Although the discussion sections sometimes offer further clarification on the meaning of terms or phrases used in the standard, the glossary should be used as the primary source for the meaning of terms or phrases. The discussion sections do not contain any additional mandatory requirements. When mandatory requirements are mentioned in a discussion section, they have been drawn directly from the standard statement.
Some of the community corrections standards have not been deemed mandatory for pretrial, probation, or parole agencies. Even though these standards may not be mandatory for these agencies, the Commission encourages pretrial, probation, and parole agencies to review these standards and consider adopting some or all of the provisions as best practices.
In crafting these standards, NPREC has kept in mind the following overarching considerations: (1) agency and facility heads should retain the flexibility, responsibility, and authority to establish systems, practices, and protocols that will eliminate sexual abuse in community corrections; (2) successful compliance with the standards and elimination of sexual abuse require ongoing systemic efforts to assess and adjust policies, practices, and the allocation of resources to address problems and improve safety; and (3) greater transparency of the agency’s sexual abuse data and efforts to prevent, detect, and respond to sexual abuse will improve public trust and confidence in our Nation’s community corrections systems and aid in the elimination of sexual abuse while under supervision.
These standards are the product of lengthy study, consultation, and reflection. The Commission held eight public hearings, during which more than 100 witnesses testified, including corrections leaders, survivors of sexual abuse in confinement, researchers, investigators, prosecutors, and advocates for victims and the incarcerated. One of these public hearings was devoted to issues related to community corrections. In addition, the Commission convened an expert committee comprised of diverse stakeholders with broad community corrections expertise to help inform the content of the standards during the drafting process. Site visits to a cross-section of community corrections facilities enabled the Commission to receive feedback on the draft standards from a variety of community corrections staff. Finally, during its 60-day public comment period, the Commission received and considered comments on the standards, many extensive in nature, from more than 225 individuals or entities representing a wide range of perspectives. At the final stages of the process, these comments were discussed with a group of community corrections experts from agencies across the country to further modify the draft standards.
While recognizing that community corrections facilities are in many ways significantly different than prisons, jails, and other confinement facilities, the Commission has tailored this set of standards to the differing uses and context of community corrections. These facilities vary from those that may resemble minimum security corrections facilities to include residential housing settings within the community. The standards cover situations in which individuals in pre- or post-sentence circumstances are supervised in residential facilities in the community pursuant to a court order or condition of supervision. The community corrections standards address not only facilities housing adults, but also those that house juveniles. Despite differences with prisons and jails, it is still necessary to provide protection from sexual abuse for those individuals who reside in community corrections facilities and are under community corrections supervision. In addition to community corrections facilities, the standards also address the responsibilities of pretrial, probation, and parole officials who supervise offenders in the community. Defendants/offenders in the community must also be protected from sexual abuse from pretrial, probation, and parole employees as well as other defendants/offenders. Officials must also understand through training how to respond to reports of abuse made by defendants/offenders while under supervision in the community or during incarceration. The standards provide guidance for receiving and acting on these reports.
The Commission believes that full adoption of these standards is necessary to achieve the elimination of sexual abuse in community corrections as Congress intended in passing PREA.