PREA Coordinator, Osceola County Corrections
The Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA) is the single-most important legislation directed toward the safety of inmates in the nation’s jails and prisons. The law supports the elimination, reduction and prevention of sexual assault in United States corrections facilities by developing national standards and accountability measures. Prohibited behaviors include actual sexual assault, sexual abuse and sexual harassment of inmates by other inmates and by staff members of the facility.
The Osceola County Corrections Department has embraced PREA and has incorporated the 43 national standards into our operating procedures. We provide education to all inmates during the booking process and again within 30 days of their incarceration to provide the inmates with ways to help prevent abuse and the knowledge to report abuse. We also educate all of our certified staff members, civilian employees, volunteers and contracted employees. In August 2014, the department completed a successful Department of Justice audit and was certified PREA-compliant. We were the first agency in Central Florida to receive the final report of compliance.
A major component of PREA is to provide access to counseling services for inmate victims of assault or abuse, whether the abuse is current or in the past. Another PREA standard requires full investigation of all allegations of assault and abuse. These investigations are performed by the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, which include a complete forensics examination at the Center, if needed. The Victim Service Center is the perfect partner for these necessary services. Our inmates have direct access to the Center to contact counselors and obtain assistance while incarcerated and after release from the facility.
The Victim Service Center has been a wonderful community partner. They have provided educational tools for our inmates, encouraged us to include them on our victim pamphlets and have begun work with inmates in our programs area. The Corrections Department has been added to the Osceola County Sexual Assault Response Team (SART). We are pleased to work with agencies that are so focused on victim education, health and safety.