The Winter Conference's Internet broadcast on prison rape provided the audience with an overview of the preliminary findings of 12 site visits conducted through a National Institute of Corrections Cooperative Agreement with The Moss Group Inc. The purpose of the visits has been to learn from the field the perspectives of practitioners in addressing prison rape and sexual assault in correctional facilities. The telecast also summarized and presented some promising practices in responding to the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA).
Moderated by Anthony C. Thompson, JD, professor, Law Department, New York University, the panel session included the following speakers: Gwendolyn C. Chunn, president, ACA; Robert W. Dumond, CCMHC, LCMHC, consultant to the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission; James A. Gondles, Jr., executive director, ACA; Andie Moss, president, The Moss Group; Brenda V. Smith, JD, member, National Prison Rape Elimination Commission; Morris L. Thigpen Sr., director, National Institute of Corrections; Reginald A. Wilkinson, Ed.D., ACA past president and director, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. Thompson presented different questions and scenarios to panel members, and facilitated discussion and debate. In responding to PREA, Wilkinson said that correctional administrators should already know how to deal with sexual assault and that the act should not be the beginning of responding to this issue. "Don't wait for the federal government to provide direction," he stressed.
Moss addressed training implications. "The field is not unaware of this type of training. Training needs to go beyond reading policies and laws." She added, "We need to look at sexual assault systemically, and we need to build on existing practices."
In an effort to get staff on board, Chunn said it is essential that the person in charge understand that he or she must talk about the issue all the time. "What gets talked about by the boss gets done," Chunn said, adding, "The real issue is how do we monitor this?" Gondles added that a zero-tolerance policy in correctional facilities is a must. Adding to that, Dumond noted that investigation of incidents must be a priority and that staff must be trained to conduct investigations properly. In some states, this might involve...