Wrap up: Protect yourself with PREA protocols

Last week's scenario presented a conflict that relates to the implementation of PREA. Read the different points of view from C1 members

By Anthony Gangi  

Last week's scenario presented a conflict that relates to the implementation of PREA. In this scenario, we have two male inmates caught in a sexual act. This act gets reported to the PREA coordinator and, with the information given, she orders the PREA protocol to come into effect. Did she do the right thing?

For this scenario, we were given responses that covered both the implementation of PREA and the total disregard for the PREA procedure. I will highlight just a few of the responses we were given and provide feedback in accordance with what was mentioned. 

C1 member ‘RBullard1’ stated, "As our facility's PREA coordinator and investigator, I would suggest Farrell is correct. There may not be a criminal violation but zero tolerance is pretty damn clear. I would however treat them both as willing participants so you can avoid all the post-sex assault victim services." 

The abovementioned quote refers to the "zero tolerance" policy and mentions that, even if the act is consensual, inmates do not have the right to consent. PREA protocol would be activated, but, if both inmates were willing participants, then you would eliminate all "post-sexual assault victim services." The comment supports the implementation of PREA until an investigation is conducted and answers are provided, and airs on the side of caution.

Another member, ‘wannabeahaole,’ inquired, "Sexual contact is prohibited so PREA is in effect. Although I do not understand why the "aggressor" cannot be interviewed, it is allowed thru PREA in my Department.”

It is my understanding, due to a potential crime that may have been committed, the aggressor cannot be interviewed until they are read their rights. Take note of everything that they voluntarily admit, but no interview should be conducted until they have been given their rights by the proper parties (investigators). 

Lokie65 stated, "There is no such thing as consensual sex in prison. The PREA protocol was implemented correctly by Major Farrell. Any other response opens the organization up to a lawsuit and the Major to termination and possible charges. Don't let anyone bully you into violating the law. If your employer has accepted PREA as a part of their policies, you had better follow it too. The job you save is your own." 

I am in total agreement with the above statement. Cover yourself and go the extra mile. If it is later revealed that this was not a sexual assault case, at least you did what you were supposed to do. You have taken the liability off of your hands and placed it into the parties who are best suited to make that determination.  

I believe ‘Centurion1950sums this wrap up the best. "The PREA mantra being that ‘there can never be consensual sex between two inmates’ does indeed mandate initiating PREA protocols. Whether or not these two inmates did in fact have consensual sex is now irrelevant. If they refuse to cooperate in the investigation (which is likely), prosecute both as rapists. Then medically examine, treat and offer victim counseling to each. I fully agree with the previous comment. The job you save may indeed be your own. And you have to feed your family, right? Welcome to 1984. Thanks PREA."

In closing, PREA protocol leaves us with many questions. These questions arise from the spontaneous scenarios that occur every day behind the prison wall. These scenarios are not cut and dry and, in most cases, we have to make a determination that stems from our experience of working behind the wall. For the abovementioned policy, it is best we air on the side of caution.  Implement the procedure and cover yourself. Worst comes to worst, we lock up two inmates who were willing participants. On the flip side, if we choose to disregard the PREA protocol, we could be held liable for not protecting the victim and most importantly, not punishing the aggressor. 

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