Moving toward Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) certification at the Ohio Department of Youth Services (ODYS) has been somewhat similar to a relay race. ODYS initially assigned PREA coordination to a behavioral health administrator as an additional duty, but as the complexities of this responsibility increased, the baton was passed to someone else in a different bureau. Finally, a few months later, ODYS has a third PREA coordinator, and PREA has found a new home in the Office of Quality Assurance and Improvement.
At the beginning of 2014, ODYS had seven PREA audits scheduled to be completed by the Aug. 20, 2014, deadline. Currently, ODYS is in its second round of audits with five remaining before the deadline. ODYS is excited to report that the staff has completed four audits without any corrective plans of action. Even though ODYS experienced personnel and positional changes, the infrastructure that the first PREA coordinator implemented prevented ODYS from losing significant ground during the three transitions. The meticulous planning and organizing of a very skilled multidisciplinary PREA steering committee created a solid plan that delineated assignments with checks and balances designed to ensure compliance with all standards prior to the PREA audits. The committee members reached across the agency and within the community to tap into multiple resources to ensure the PREA steering committee met every goal in the specified timeframe. The following five keys will provide a brief account of the staff's experiences as ODYS moved toward PREA compliance.
Keys for PREA Compliance
Key one. Having the right people "at the table" in the beginning is the greatest time saver. Who are the "right" people for PREA planning? For ODYS, they were the deputy of the chief inspector's office; the chief of human resources; the chief of parole services; the chief of community corrections facilities; administrators from facility programs and operations; the statewide accreditation administrator; the director of nursing; the agency policy administrator; training managers; and the chief of quality assurance and improvement, to name a few. Decisions were made without long delays, and it kept the momentum going and produced a greater output. Fortunately, ODYS staff did not have to create many new policies.
The staff simply made the detailed changes to the current policies and procedures. Early in the planning stage, ODYS staff created a cross-reference guide of...