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Virginia Department of Corrections — Public Safety First

News: Press Release

For Immediate Release: August 20, 2013 - Contact Lisa E. Kinney, (804) 674-3275

Action Alliance Partners with Department of Corrections, Will Offer Sexual Assault Advocacy Services to Inmates

RICHMOND - The Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance and the Virginia Department of Corrections have entered into an agreement to provide specialized crisis and advocacy services to incarcerated individuals who are victims of sexual abuse or assault.

The collaborative project is a result of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). Through the toll-free Virginia Family Violence & Sexual Assault Hotline, the Action Alliance will provide crisis support and services to people who are sexually assaulted while incarcerated. The Hotline will act as a resource for incarcerated victims to report sexual abuse or assault, and will connect victims to emergency accompaniment services from trained victim advocates.

Unanimously passed by Congress, the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) was signed into law in 2003 by President George W. Bush and became the first federal legislation addressing the issue of sexual assault in correctional settings. The Act applies to sexual abuse in all custodial corrections settings, including prisons, jails, police lock-ups, juvenile detention facilities, and community residential settings. Moreover, the Act applies to all types of sexual misconduct against an inmate, including abuse by other inmates and staff.1

"The Action Alliance is pleased to partner with the Virginia Department of Corrections on this important project", said Action Alliance Executive Director, Kristi VanAudenhove. "Everyone deserves a life free from sexual violence. Regardless the type of conviction, rape should not be part of the sentence. We are here to offer support and advocacy for all victims of sexual violence".

"This new partnership will provide offenders an outside hotline to call to report a PREA violation as well as advocates for support," said VADOC Director Harold Clarke. "We train our staff to be vigilant about preventing sexual abuse and assault, and this adds a necessary layer of support for offenders who might be victimized."

Prisoner rape is a crime and a human rights violation; every year roughly 200,000 adults and children in U.S. detention are sexually abused.2 Sexual abuse of inmates has implications that extend beyond their release into the community. Victims of prison rape suffer severe physical and psychological effects that hinder their ability to integrate into the community and maintain stable employment upon their release from prison."3