Celebrating the foundation of the Prison Rape Elimination Act 15 years ago
Sept. 4, 2018 marked the 15th Anniversary of the signing of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) by President George W. Bush in response to what has clearly become a human rights crisis in our country. In 2013, a Bureau of Justice Statistics study estimated that roughly 200,000 people were sexually abused in a detention facility in the timespan of one year.
Today, the Office of Crime Victims Advocacy (OCVA) wants to acknowledge and honor those survivors, families and allies who told and continue to tell their stories and use their voices to exclaim that rape is not a part of the sentence for a crime. These individuals have worked tirelessly to ensure that protections are in place to ensure safety for all incarcerated individuals.
In these 15 years, advocates, survivors and other allies have worked to not only create standards for all prison, jail and youth detention centers but also pursue a cultural shift in thought to recognize that incarcerated individuals deserve the same safety and support as any other community member. The New York Times shared an op-ed that powerfully documents the juxtaposition of our mainstream media and the realities of a survivor of prison rape. This video shares a rape survivor’s story in detail, please exercise care for yourself and others when viewing or sharing this video.
In 2012, the first PREA standards were released requiring detention facilities take steps to prevent, investigate, respond and provide appropriate medical and support services to individuals in their facilities. A vital part of these standards is the requirement that incarcerated survivors of sexual assault have access to outside support services.
With the release of these standards OCVA, the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs (WCSAP) and the Washington State Department of Corrections (WADOC) quickly began having conversations about what sexual assault advocacy services are and how we might engage those services in the Washington State prison system. In the six years since the development of the PREA standards, this partnership along with the dedication of 14 Community Sexual Assault Programs (CSAPs), has developed processes and procedures and ensured that incarcerated survivors in WADOC facilities have access to sexual assault advocacy services in hospital, by phone, in-person and during some investigational interviews.
As front-runners in this movement, we are so proud to be a part of the great work our coalition and Community Sexual Assault Program partners are doing in Washington State to support incarcerated survivors.
OCVA continues to participate in conversations to support programs who are trying to implement these services within their local adult and juvenile detention systems.
Here are some other resources available regarding PREA:
PREA Resource Center – https://PREAresourcecenter.org
Just Detention International – https://justdetention.org/
For more about funding opportunities for this work contact your OCVA program coordinator or Megan Baskett, Direct Services and PREA Specialist.