How does PREA impact OJJ facilities?

  • PREA addresses the detection, elimination, and prevention of sexual assault in OJJ facilities throughout Louisiana
  • PREA funds the development of national standards of compliance and accountability for juveniles in OJJ custody
  • PREA directs the collection and dissemination of information on the incidence of youth-on-youth sexual violence as well as staff sexual misconduct with youth in OJJ custody

For PREA purposes, the term “prison” applies to all federal, state, and local prisons, jails, police lock-ups, temporary holding cells, private facilities, and community settings such as residential facilities. The term “inmate” applies to any person of any age held in a custodial setting for any length of time by any of the facility types mentioned above.

To whom does PREA apply?

PREA applies to all public and private institutions that house juvenile and/or adult offenders, male or female.

What is the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission?

PREA established a National Prison Rape Elimination Commission (NPREC) with nine members, appointed by both the President and Congress. The Commission’s primary mission is to carry out a comprehensive legal and factual study of the impact of prison rape in the United States. The Commission is charged with studying federal, state, and local government policies and practices related to the prevention, detection, response, and monitoring of sexual abuse in correction and detention facilities in the United States. The NPREC studies all types of sexual abuse affecting persons of any age who are in confinement in the U.S.

What is the evidence of OJJ’s commitment to maintain a safe, humane, and appropriately secure environment for youth offenders?

OJJ and its predecessor agencies have at various times formed study groups to evaluate the agency’s readiness to detect and investigate inappropriate staff/offender relationships and to make recommendations for improvement. Training received by new OJJ employees with direct care responsibilities has been examined and refined with probationary periods extended for new OJJ employees. Pre-service staff training has been extensively reworked based upon successful employee training methods used in other states. Most recently, OJJ has established a PREA Steering Committee to insure that PREA mandates are recognized and carried out in all OJJ facilities.

Standards of employee conduct have long included prohibitions against staff becoming inappropriately personally involved with youthful offenders. Investigatory staff positions have been expanded with application of refined training and procedures. Employee disciplinary actions and referrals to local District Attorney offices have been initiated where appropriate. When sufficient evidence exists, OJJ does not hesitate to remove that employee and to support criminal prosecution of that employee.

Questions regarding PREA may be referred to the OJJ Family Liaison:

PHONE: 225. 287-.7900 or call toll free - 800.594.3941 E-mail: OJJ.FamilyLiaison@la.gov

How does PREA impact OJJ employees?

PREA addresses the safety of juveniles (and offenders age 17 and over) while in Office of Juvenile Justice (OJJ) custody - including sexual assault, sexual harassment, supposedly “consensual sex” with employees, and youth - youth sexual assault. PREA pertains to the safety of juvenile youth or adjudicated offenders while in the custody of the criminal justice system including jail, detention, non-secure residential care, and secure confinement.

PREA also directs agencies to maintain data regarding youth-youth sexual assaults, nonconsensual sexual acts, and staff sexual misconduct.

Can the agency be sued for not complying with PREA?

No. PREA does not create any right to sue. However, states already are required by federal and state law to operate within Constitutional requirements and assure the safety of youth in custody. All states have laws prohibiting sexual misconduct. More importantly, there is an ethical responsibility to protect the safety of staff and those youth custody. Failure to protect incarcerated youth can result in civil liability for the agency, supervisors, and staff, both personally and professionally.

What are the consequences for not complying with PREA?

If the Office of Juvenile Justice (OJJ) fails to comply with the final PREA National Standards for juveniles when they are disseminated, our agency will face a five percent reduction of federal funding for each year OJJ fails to meet the juvenile standards. Failure to comply with the standards could also be evidence in a civil trial that OJJ is not meeting the standard of care necessary to ensure youth safety.

What if we are dealing with a small residential center or there are only a small number of OJJ youth in a program?

PREA is applicable to the smallest residential facility as well as facilities that hold hundreds of youth.

Why should I be concerned with sexual misconduct at my facility?

Sexual misconduct is not about sex, but about safety and security. Both are compromised whenever boundaries break down and a staff member becomes personal or intimate with an offender.

Staff sexual misconduct undermines the mission of OJJ by creating unstable living and working environments for the offenders as well as their supervising staff members.

Staff sexual misconduct with offenders affects correctional staff by:

  • jeopardizing staff safety
  • threatening agency and facility safety and security
  • creating the risk of legal action — both criminal and civil
  • creating health risks
  • harming family relationships
  • creating negative public views of corrections
  • diminishing trust and morale of staff and offenders
  • weakening respect for, and the authority of, correctional staff among offenders

I have not heard about any reports of staff sexual misconduct or youth-youth sexual assault.

Why should I be concerned about PREA?

No facility, large or small, is immune to the possibility of staff sexual misconduct and youth sexual assault. Your facility may find that they don’t receive reports about incidents, which is generally the result of a lack of training, a strong “code of silence,” or unclear or compromised reporting mechanisms for employees and youth. Facilities that have no reports of such incidents should look to their reporting procedures in order to insure that facility administrators are receiving allegations and appropriately reporting them.

What about youth who either manipulate the system using PREA or make false allegations against staff?

Staff are often concerned that addressing PREA-related issues in policy and procedure, and educating youth as to their right to be safe while in custody, may result in false accusations or false reports of staff misconduct. Experience has shown that there may be an initial spike in reporting, or reports that “test” the facility’s system. However, incidents of false reporting usually stop when both staff and youth realize that there will be thorough and timely investigations—of all youth.

Who do I contact if I have questions regarding PREA?

Questions regarding PREA may be referred to the OJJ Family and Community Liaison:

PHONE: 225. 287-.7900 or call toll free - 800.594.3941 E-mail: OJJ.FamilyLiaison@la.gov