The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) of 2003 is a federal law established to support the elimination and prevention of sexual assault and sexual misconduct in correctional systems. The United States Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 is 42 U.S.C. Sections 15601 (https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCODE-2005-title42/pdf/USCODE-2005-title42-chap147-sec15601.pdf ). PREA addresses both inmate-to-inmate sexual assault and staff-to-inmate sexual assault. Somerset County Jail (SCJ) has a zero tolerance policy towards all forms of sexual abuse and sexual harassment. All allegations of sexual misconduct or sexual harassment will be referred for investigation. These allegations will be investigated by Somerset County Jail’s PREA Investigators and referred to appropriate internal or external investigative staff to conduct a criminal investigation. All staff and contractors with inmate contact receive training on PREA, all volunteers receive an orientation on SCJ’s PREA policies, and contractors who have limited inmate contact sign a PREA acknowledgement. All staff, contractors and volunteers are background checked prior to working in the facility and an on-going basis.
Somerset County Jail houses pre and post-conviction; able and disabled; male, female, and persons identifying as lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transsexual or inter-sex. The facilities policies, procedures and practices are driven by the needs of this population; Maine Department of Corrections standards; American Correctional Association standards; and PREA standards.
Somerset County Jail has a systematic process that starts when an arrestee enters our intake area (the booking process). Upon Booking all Somerset County Jail arrestees will be explained PREA and Somerset County Jail’s zero tolerance. This form and posters throughout the facility explain the ways to report any instance of sexual assault or harassment. This includes: telling a staff member, volunteer, or contractor; by sending an inmate request or grievance; making a report on the free SCJ PREA Report Line; or by writing the Department of Corrections PREA Coordinator. Any of these reporting means can be done anonymously and are available to third parties in the community. If someone is a victim of sexual assault or harassment they have the right to treatment, counseling and help free of charge. Victim advocacy services are available and mental health for those in need. For those persons dealing with trauma related to acts of sexual violence in the community SCJ will assist in the continuation of services during their incarceration.
During the intake and classification processes, arrestees will be screened and assessed by security staff, medical and mental health staff for risk as well as the possibility of sexual victimization or sexual predation. After the Intake process inmates will also receive an orientation with the programs department. Through this orientation PREA is explained to all inmates and questions addressed during this presentation. This process is documented. PREA Information is also posted in all housing units, Medical, Intake, Programs, lobby areas and in our rule books (issued to every inmate).
When a PREA incident comes to the attention of SCJ staff, volunteers, or contractors the receiving person makes a written report immediately to the Shift Supervisor on duty. This supervisor will conduct an interview with the victim to assess security and safety of the individual. Immediate actions may include: forensic evidence collection at the local hospital, medical and mental health assistance, separation of the perpetrator and notification of the facility PREA Coordinator. The victim will be offered free: medical, mental health, victim counselling, and the investigation will be initiated. As the investigation proceeds and after it is concluded the victim will be monitored on a periodic basis for need of assistance, harassment as a result of the investigation, and ongoing trauma based issues. The victim will be informed of the results of the investigation at the conclusion.
Sexual Act- Definition located in 17-A M.R.S.A. 251
Sexual Harassment- The repeated and unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or verbal comments, gestures, or actions of a derogatory or offensive sexual nature by one inmate, detainee, or resident directed toward another; or the repeated verbal comments or gestures of a sexual nature to an arrestee or inmate 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.
In accordance with PREA, all investigations are assigned one of the three possible determinations:
- Substantiated- an allegation that was investigated and determined to have occurred
- Unsubstantiated- an allegation which produced insufficient evidence to make a final determination of a substantiated or unfounded claim
- Unfounded- an allegation which was investigated and determined not to have occurred