Missouri Legal Update

2020 Lesson 10: Confinement Sexual Abuse/PREA for Officers – Pt 1

Technical

Release Date: 

7/1/2020

This is Part 1 of a two-part online technical skills lesson on preventing confinement sexual abuse/PREA for officers. The purpose of this lesson is to provide basic information and guidance to law enforcement personnel regarding the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (“PREA”). Despite what the name implies, PREA does not just apply to prisons nor does it just apply to rape. Rather, it protects anyone in confinement, even in a halfway house or tribal facility, from any type of sexual assault or sexual harassment by staff, inmates, contractors, volunteers, or others. Accordingly, it is important for law enforcement officers to have a basic understanding of PREA requirements, both because they interact with residents/detainees/inmates and because they sometimes investigate crimes committed against them. This lesson focuses on the PREA standards applicable in jails and police lockups. The lesson provides examples from actual cases of sexual abuse by inmates and staff.


This lesson examines the dynamics of sexual abuse in detention, including the prevalence of detention sexual abuse and risk factors for victimization. It explains the continuum of abusive behaviors, identifies how heterosexism and homophobia in detention facilities can encourage the targeting of anyone who does not conform to gender norms, and examines common barriers victims face to reporting sexual abuse in detention facilities.


The lesson includes PREA definitions. It explains PREA’s required zero-tolerance policy towards all forms of sexual abuse and sexual harassment. It examines PREA requirements regarding: the housing of youthful inmates, cross-gender viewing and searches, inmates with disabilities, evidence protocols, and training requirements.


The lesson explains PREA’s risk-screening requirements and their importance to police. Finally, the lesson examines PREA’s reporting and investigations requirements, including the requirement that agencies provide multiple internal ways for inmates to privately report sexual abuse and sexual harassment, retaliation, and neglect.

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