Criminal Justice News

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Department of Justice Announces 50 States and Territories Have Committed to Ending Prison Rape



In the second year of the implementation of the standards set forth in the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), 50 jurisdictions submitted statements of compliance or assurances that they commit to spend 5 percent of certain Department of Justice grant funds to come into compliance.  In FY 2015, 10 states certified that they are in full compliance with the PREA standards.  These states are Iowa, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington.  In FY 2015, 40 jurisdictions submitted an assurance.  In FY 2014, the first year of implementation of the PREA standards, 48 of the 56 jurisdictions subject to PREA were either in compliance or submitted assurances to spend 5 percent of certain grant funds to come into compliance.  The department saw a significant increase in states that have attained full compliance this year.  In FY2014 two states submitted certifications.

“The very hard work of implementing new policies and practices, and transforming cultures in confinement agencies and facilities in ways that promote the sexual safety of inmates, residents and detainees, is well underway,” said Assistant Attorney General Karol V. Mason of the Office of Justice Programs.  “The large number of jurisdictions that submitted certifications and assurances this year to the Department of Justice, the significant numbers of agencies and facilities that are conducting PREA audits and the increasing support for PREA in the law enforcement and corrections fields suggest a building momentum.  We are committed to increasing this momentum, and working with the remaining five states and the one territory that did not respond.”

Certifications, assurances and related documentation were submitted to the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), a component of Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP), and are available at https://www.bja.gov/Programs/15PREA-AssurancesCertifications.pdf.

The PREA statute, which was passed in 2003 with unanimous support from both chambers of Congress, required the establishment of the national PREA standards for the detection, prevention, reduction and punishment of prison rape.  The standards took effect on Aug. 20, 2012, and apply to federal, state and local confinement facilities which includes adult prisons and jails, juvenile facilities, lockups and community confinement facilities.

Understanding that the standards could take a number of years to fully implement, the PREA statute allows a governor whose state or territory is not yet in full compliance to submit an assurance to the Department of Justice that not less than 5 percent of certain Department of Justice grant funds will be used solely for the purpose of enabling the jurisdiction to achieve and certify full compliance with the standards in future years.  A total of 56 jurisdictions are subject to PREA – 50 states, five territories and the District of Columbia.  The six jurisdictions that are unwilling to commit department grant funds to implement the national PREA standards are subject to the loss of 5 percent of certain Department of Justice grant funds they would otherwise receive.  In FY2014, eight jurisdictions were unwilling to commit department grant funds to implement the standards.

Information about grant funds impacted by PREA in FY 2014 and FY 2015 is available in the PREA section of BJA’s web page.  This information includes lists of FY 2014 department grant reductions (in jurisdictions that submitted neither an assurance nor a certification) and reallocations (in jurisdictions that submitted an assurance) amounts by state and territory, and a summary of PREA implementation activities supported by FY 2014 Department of Justice reallocation grants.  Department grant reduction and reallocation amounts for FY 2015, along with a summary of activities supported by reallocation grants, will be posted on BJA’s web page as soon as they are finalized.

To assist states and localities with implementation, BJA has funded the National PREA Resource Center to provide training and technical assistance for those in the field who are working to come into compliance with the standards.  These resources are available at www.prearesourcecenter.org

No comments: