The Prison Rape Elimination Act
The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) was passed in 2003 with unanimous support from both parties in Congress. The purpose of the act was to “provide for the analysis of the incidence and effects of prison rape in Federal, State, and local institutions and to provide information, resources, recommendations, and funding to protect individuals from prison rape.” In addition to creating a mandate for significant research from the Bureau of Justice Statistics and through the National Institute of Justice, funding through the Bureau of Justice Assistance and the National Institute of Corrections supported major efforts in many state correctional, juvenile detention, community corrections, and jail systems.
The act also created the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission and charged it with developing draft standards for the elimination of prison rape. Those standards were published in June 2009, and were turned over to the Department of Justice for review and passage as a final rule. That final rule became effective August 20, 2012.
In 2010, the Bureau of Justice Assistance funded the National PREA Resource Center to continue to provide federally funded training and technical assistance to states and localities, as well as to serve as a single-stop resource for leading research and tools for all those in the field working to come into compliance with the federal standards. To visit the PREA Resource Center’s website, click here.
The Act calls for agencies to comply with the national standards proposed by the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission and promulgated by the Attorney General to eliminate sexual assault and sexual abuse. Agencies must demonstrate zero tolerance not merely by words and written policy, but through their actions, including what they do to prevent sexual assault, sexual abuse and sexual harassment and the response when this occurs.
The Hampden County Sheriff’s Department PREA Program
The Hampden County Sheriff’s Department (HCSD) established a zero-tolerance policy for incidents of sexual assault, sexual abuse, and sexual harassment. It makes the prevention and elimination of sexual assault, sexual abuse, and sexual harassment a top priority.
HCSD designated a PREA Coordinator to oversee, coordinate and monitor implementation of these changes as well as be responsible to continually evaluate and seek out new methods to prevent and reduce sexual assault, sexual abuse, and sexual harassment within the department’s facilities.
Compliance with Prison Rape Elimination Act
In compliance with Section 115.22 (115.222 for Community Confinement Facilities) of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Standards, the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department has provided policies to ensure referrals of allegations for investigations. Those policies can be found by clicking here: PREA Policy
If you suspect sexual abuse has happened at one of the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department facilities, you may call the PREA Coordinator at (413)858-0914 or you may call the Massachusetts State Police. Please have any information or evidence available for the investigator who will be assigned to handle the case. False accusations may be prosecuted. All reports are taken seriously and investigated as outlined in the PREA Standards.
How to Report Incidents of Sexual Assault or Sexual Abuse:
- Mail the PREA Coordinator at 627 Randall Road, Ludlow, Ma. 01056
- Call the PREA Coordinator at (413) 858-0914
- Call the Hampden County Rape Crisis Center:
Llámanos Spanish Language Helpline 24-hour Helpline: (800) 223-5001 c/o YWCA of Western Mass. 1 Clough Street Springfield, MA 01118
Data Review for Corrective Action and Publication
In compliance with Section 115.87 & 115.88 (115.287& 115.288 for Community Confinement Standards) of the PREA Standards, HCSD has reviewed data collected and aggregated pursuant to this section in order to assess and improve the effectiveness of its sexual abuse prevention, detection, and response policies, practices, and training, including:
- Identifying problem areas;
- Taking corrective action on an ongoing basis; and
- Preparing an annual report of its findings and corrective actions.
Also, in compliance with theses sections of the PREA Standards, HCSD shall make all aggregated sexual abuse data readily available to the public at least annually. To view the policy governing this data collection, click here.
The PREA Coordinator will issue an annual report regarding PREA. Below are links to recent reports:
The Hampden County Sheriff’s Department:
- Requires forensic medical examinations be used whenever possible for sexual assaults.
- Requires all HCSD staff, contract employees and volunteers to attend PREA basic training and annual refresher training.
- Requires specialized training for first responders that covers crime scene preservation, avoiding contamination, following forensic evidence collection protocol as it applies to sexual assault victims and/or sexual predators. Other specialized training includes addressing the dynamics of sexual victimization, signs/symptoms associated with sexual violence and appropriate responses and interventions for victims of sexual abuse and/or sexual predators.
- Established a system for any offender under the supervision of HCSD to report incidents of sexual assault, sexual abuse, or sexual harassment.
- Uses a classification process to identify potential sexual vulnerability and sexually aggressive behavior in offenders.
- Has a Facility-wide PREA Coordinator at and a PREA Manager at each facility.
Services Offered to Victims upon Request:
- Free, confidential rape crisis hotline
- Mental Health counseling
- Forensic Medical Exams performed by Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE)
- Provide victim advocacy/victim rights information if applicable
- Provide the opportunity to report incidents to an agency outside HCSD
- Monitoring for retaliation by the PREA Coordinator
HCSD PREA Auditor’s Report
PREA Standard 115.93 (115.293 for Community Confinement Standards) requires the agency publish the auditor’s final report on its website. The report is available by clicking on the link(s) below:
- Main Institution/Pre-Release Center/ WMCAC: PREA Audit Report 2015
- Women’s Correctional Center: WCC PREA Audit Report 2016