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The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA)

What is PREA?  PREA stands for the Prison Rape Elimination Act, which was signed into law by President Bush on September 4, 2003. The final regulatory standards to implement PREA went into effect on August 20, 2012.

What is the purpose of PREA? PREA addresses the detection, prevention, reduction, and prosecution of sexual harassment and sexual abuse in all correctional facilities in the country.

What facilities does PREA apply? PREA applies to all confinement facilities in the state. This includes all prisons, jails, police lock-ups, juvenile facilities, immigration detention centers, court holding facilities, and community corrections facilities (home monitoring, probation, parole, halfway houses).

What is sexual abuse by an inmate?  Sexual abuse of an inmate, detainee, or resident by another inmate, detainee, or resident includes any of the following acts, if the victim does not consent, is coerced into such act by overt or implied threats of violence, or is unable to consent or refuse:

  1. Contact between the penis and the vulva or the penis and the anus, including penetration, however slight.
  2. Contact between the mouth and the penis, vulva, or anus.
  3. Penetration of the anal or genital opening of another person, however slight, by a hand, finger, object, or other instrument.
  4. Any other intentional touching, either directly or through the clothing, of the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or the buttocks of another person, excluding contact incidental to a physical altercation.

What is sexual abuse by staff, visitors, contractors, or volunteers? Sexual abuse of an inmate, detainee, or resident by a staff member, contractor, or volunteer includes any of the following acts, with or without consent of the inmate, detainee, or resident:

  1. Contact between the penis and the vulva or the penis and the anus, including penetration, however slight.
  2. Contact between the mouth and the penis, vulva, or anus.
  3. Contact between the mouth and any body part where the staff member, contractor, or volunteer has the intent to abuse, arouse, or gratify sexual desire.
  4. Penetration of the anal or genital opening, however slight, by a hand, finger, or object, that is unrelated to official duties or where the staff member, contractor, or volunteer has the intent to abuse, arouse, or gratify sexual desire.
  5. Any other intentional contact, either directly or through the clothing, with the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or the buttocks, that is unrelated to official duties or where the staff member, contractor, or volunteer has the intent to abuse, arouse, or gratify sexual desire.
  6. Any attempt, threat, or request by a staff member, contractor, or volunteer to engage in the activities described in paragraphs 1-5 of this section.
  7. Any display by a staff member, contractor, or volunteer of his or her uncovered genitalia, buttocks, or breast in the presence of an inmate, detainee, or resident, or voyeurism by a staff member, contractor, or volunteer.
  8. Voyeurism by a staff member, contractor, or volunteer.

What is sexual harassment? Sexual harassment is repeated and unwelcome sexual advances, request for favors, or verbal comments, gestures, or actions of a derogatory or offensive sexual nature by one inmate, detainee, or resident directed toward another. Repeated verbal comments or gestures of a sexual nature to an inmate, detainee, or resident by a staff member, contractor, or volunteer, including demeaning references to gender, sexually suggestive or derogatory comments about body or clothing, or obscene language or gestures. 

What should someone do if they suspect a sexual assault has occurred in a correctional facility? Anyone who suspects or has knowledge of any sexual harassment or sexual abuse of any juvenile or adult in our correctional facility should immediately report it to a staff member or other member working in the jail facilities. Anyone who receives a report of sexual abuse or harassment in any confinement setting must send it up the chain of command for investigation and disposition.

Reporting of sexual abuse or sexual harassment Every report that is made is taken seriously and will be investigated fully. The Escambia County Corrections Department has a zero-tolerance policy for any sexual abuse and sexual harassment made or attempted by any inmate, staff member, volunteer, visitor, or contractor. The Escambia County Corrections Department offers multiple ways to report sexual abuse and sexual harassment:

  • Family members, friends, legal counsel, or anyone outside the facility can report on the inmate’s behalf by submitting an email to prea@myescambia.com, by calling (850) 436-9830, or by sending a letter to: Escambia County Jail PREA Coordinator, 3080 N Pace Blvd, Pensacola, Florida 32505.
  • The inmate can verbally report to any staff, volunteer, contractor, or medical or mental health staff. Reports can be made anonymously.
  • Inmates can also submit a request (or grievance) on the tablet / kiosk system, sick call slip, or hand-written letter. Inmates can make an anonymous report by calling Lakeview Center Victim Services, at *7732 (*PREA) on the inmate telephone system. All abuse, rape crisis hotlines are toll free, non-recorded lines from all inmate housing areas. Any information regarding criminal activity, including sexual offenses, revealed by the population to the rape crisis centers will be held completely confidential, unless the rape crisis center is required to reveal this information under state or federal Law.

For foreign nationals- If you have been the victim of a sexual assault and are a non-U.S. citizen who is arrested or detained, you may request to notify your country’s consular officer here in the United States of your situation. A consular officer may be able to help you obtain legal representation, contact your family and visit you in detention, among other opportunities for support and guidance. If you are requesting to notify your consular officer in reference to a sexual assault, you can submit a request on the inmate tablet system or submit a handwritten request to the housing unit officer or Shift Supervisor. Be sure to include the country, of the Consulate, you are requesting to notify.

For detainees with Immigration holds-The ICE Community and Detainee Helpline is a toll-free service that can be reached by dialing 1-888-351-4024. This is a toll-free number and has been made a non-recorded number by the facility, for the purpose of reporting sexual assault, sexual abuse, and sexual harassment. Live trained operators are available Monday through Friday (excluding holidays) from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) Language assistance, including Spanish operators, is also available. Individuals with a hold for Immigrations can speak to an operator to report an incident of sexual assault or sexual abuse.

VICTIM SUPPORT SERVICES

In addition to services available from our mental health team, the Escambia County Corrections Department has partnered with Lakeview Center Victim Services to provide survivors of sexual abuse with emotional support services. To access these services, you can call (850) 469-3800. Lakeview Center Victim Services is located at 1201 W Lakeview Ave, Bldg. H, Pensacola, Fl 32501. 

In compliance with PREA, The Escambia County Corrections Department is committed to emphasizing a zero-tolerance of the sexual abuse of inmates, either by staff or other prisoners. Sexual abuse affects everyone, either directly or through the experiences of those we care about. It is not only a women’s issue, as it can affect persons of any gender, age, race ethnic group, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, or disability.

ANY TYPE OF SEX, INCLUDING CONSENSUAL SEX, IS PROHIBITED.

Inappropriate physical contact between inmates will not be tolerated and will result in disciplinary action.

The Department’s mission is to increase public safety, and part of that mission is making sure that this is a safe facility. This facility does not tolerate sexual abuse, sexual harassment, or retaliation for reporting sexual abuse or sexual harassment.

Inmate’s Rights:

No one has a right to pressure inmates to engage in sexual acts or engage in unwanted sexual behavior, as they have a right to be safe and free from sexual harassment and sexual assaults. Individuals who sexually abuse or assault detainees/inmates can only be removed, disciplined and/or prosecuted if the abuse is reported. Inmates do not have to name other inmates to receive assistance, but specific information may make it easier for staff to help you.

Any inmate who is sexually abused or sexually harassed has the right to report privately and safely, and this facility offers several ways that an inmate can make a report.

If an inmate is abused, that person has the right to get help from trained medical and mental health care professionals who work in the facility.

Inmates who are abused also have the right to receive emotional support services from trained counselors from our Mental Health team.

Pat Searches and Routine Medical Examinations

Security searches and routine medical examinations conducted by staff in accordance with established policy and procedures will not be considered as sexual abuse or misconduct.

Actions Taken When an Allegation of Sexual Abuse is Reported

  1. Alleged victim and abuser will be separated.
  2. If the abuse occurred within a time period that still allows for the collection of physical evidence, the alleged victim will be instructed not to take any action that could destroy physical evidence; including washing, brushing teeth, changing clothes, urinating, defecating, drinking or eating.
  3. If the abuse occurred within a time period that still allows for the collection of physical evidence, the alleged aggressor will be instructed not to take any action that could destroy physical evidence; including washing, brushing teeth, changing clothes, urinating, defecating, Drinking or eating.
  4. The alleged victim will be seen and evaluated by medical.
  5. The alleged aggressor will be seen and evaluated by medical. The alleged victim and abuser will be housed separately and alone until assessed by medical and mental health.
  6. The incident will be fully documented.
  7. All documentation will be forwarded for Criminal or Administrative Investigation.
  8. The alleged victim and abuser will be evaluated for re-housing in consult with both Classification and the PREA Coordinator.

Did You Know

  1. Sexual abuse has nothing to do with the victim’s sexual orientation. Victims may be either heterosexual or homosexual.
  2. A survivor is not at fault for the rape, even if they were in a secluded area or had previous consensual sex with the attacker.
  3. It is common for survivors of sexual assault to have feelings of embarrassment, anger, guilt, panic, depression and fear even several months or years after the attack. Other common reactions include loss of appetite, nausea or stomachaches, headaches, loss of memory and/or trouble concentrating and changes in sleep patterns.
  4. Additional sexual abuse prevention, reporting, detection, and educational information is located on the inmate tablet system. 

Confidentiality

Information concerning the identity of the inmate victim reporting the sexual assault, sexual abuse, and sexual harassment and the facts of the report itself is limited to those who have a need to know in order to make decisions concerning the inmate victim’s welfare and for law enforcement investigative purposes.

Seeking Medical Help

Inmates will receive medical care. With the inmate’s permission, they will be transported to a local hospital for a sexual assault examination, testing, counseling, and treatment. The exam will be conducted privately and professionally. Upon the inmate’s return to the facility, they will be provided follow-up medical and mental health care.

Counseling Programs

Crisis counseling, coping skills, suicide prevention, and mental health counseling are all available to inmates at the jail. Inmates may seek counseling and advice from a psychologist or Chaplain. Most people need help to recover from the emotional effects of sexual assault. If an inmate has been the victim of sexual assault, recently or in the past, staff are available to assist.

Protection Against Retaliation

Retaliation by inmates and staff against individuals because of their involvement in the reporting or investigation of a sexual assault/abuse or sexual misconduct complaint is prohibited. The PREA Coordinator will meet regularly with victims after the allegation to ensure you are protected and safe from retaliation.

Penalties for Filing a False Report

  • Filing a false police report is prohibited in Florida by statute. According to Section 817.49, Florida Statutes anyone who knowingly misleads the authorities or who causes someone else to mislead the police about the commission of a crime is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree. The statute covers those who not only lie to the police, but those who report crimes that were not actually committed as well as misinformation about crimes that were.
  • According to Section 775.082(d), Florida Statutes the maximum penalty for a person convicted of providing a false report to law enforcement about any crime, a first-degree misdemeanor, is a one-year prison term and a fine of $1,000. However, for a person convicted of providing a false report about a capital felony, the maximum penalty is a five-year prison term and a fine of $5,000. The severity of the prison term and fine given, however, is up to the discretion of the sentencing judge and varies depending on the facts of the case, and the prior criminal record of the defendant.
  • Florida Statute 775.082 (2) further orders the defendant to pay court costs.

The following websites provide valuable information to detainees, inmates and staff in reference to PREA.

http://www.prearesourcecenter.org/

http://www.justdetention.org/

The Escambia County Corrections Department Point of Contact for PREA allegations, questions, or reporting is:

PREA Coordinator – Lt. C. Watson 850-436-0208
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The mission of Escambia County government is to provide efficient, responsive services that enhance our quality of life, meet common needs and promote a safe and healthy community.

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