LaFASA’s Newest Program Aims to End Sexual Violence in Prisons

The final draft of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) was adopted in 2012 to address the prevention, intervention, and treatment of sexual assault in confinement. PREA calls for a zero tolerance approach to sexual abuse or harassment for incarcerated individuals. Harassment by both fellow inmates or staff members is prohibited under PREA. The conception of PREA was a result of the proliferation of sexual assault behind bars. The rampant rates of prison rape led to increases  of HIV/STIs, recidivism, unemployment, mental trauma, and racial tension in both free and incarcerated populations.

Under PREA, inmates are entitled to receive counseling and medical treatment when reporting a sexual assault. Multiple channels should be made available to inmates when reporting. The STOP Violence Against Women Grant, allows for the funding of third party agencies to provide survivor services, such as preventative work or responsive efforts. The position of PREA Liaison with LaFASA was created to improve conditions for survivors residing in detention facilities. As PREA Liaison, Rachel Calvaruso, will advocate for the rights of incarcerated survivors. Survivors may write to her, requesting specific services, or they may request that I submit a report on their behalf.

In addition to being a point of contact for the incarcerated populations,  this program will alleviate sexual assault through preventative measures within the prison culture. By fostering working relationships with prison administration and offering technical assistance for the successful implementation of PREA standards, the PREA Liaison will provide Louisiana facilities with appropriate resources. Ensuring a safe environment for detainees and prisoners will also ensure the safety of prison staff, and ease the transition of the formerly incarcerated individual back into the free population, upon release.

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