Prison Rape Elimination Act
We have a zero-tolerance policy for sexual abuse and sexual harassment in our facilities and offices, as part of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). Every member of our department completes PREA awareness training annually. Non-institutional staff complete PREA awareness training biennially.
All staff, contractors, volunteers, offenders, and probationers are free from retaliation for reporting sexual abuse or sexual harassment. We treat every investigation in a confidential and professional manner. Gender, sexual preference, or gender identity is never a factor in our investigations.
If you have or someone you know has been sexually abused or sexually harassed while in custody or under the supervision of the Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC), safely report the incident:
- Call the 24/7 confidential reporting hotline at 1-855-602-7001
- File a complaint by completing the Third Party Reporting Form. The form is also available in Spanish.
- Send an email to PREAGrievance@vadoc.virginia.gov
You can find more details in Operating Procedure 866.2 Offender Complaints - Community Corrections.
How a PREA Complaint is Processed
When we receive a message on the confidential hotline or a PREA third party reporting form, the complaint goes through the following process:
A PREA complaint is reported.
A PREA Hotline Coordinator receives, reviews, and documents a PREA complaint.
The PREA complaint is forwarded to the right contacts.
A PREA Hotline Coordinator will notify the correct facility and PREA Unit. The victim and alleged perpetrator(s) are separated. The victim is offered medical and mental health services.
An investigation is conducted.
The Institutional Investigator and/or the Special Investigations Unit conducts an investigation once they receive a claim of sexual misconduct or sexual harassment against a staff member or offender.
A disposition can be substantiated, unsubstantiated, or unfounded.
- Substantiated: the allegation was investigated and was determined to have occurred.
- Unsubstantiated: there was not enough evidence determine whether or not the allegation occurred.
- Unfounded: the allegation was determined to not have occurred.
Termination is the presumptive discipline for staff members who are found to have engaged in sexual abuse.
Violators of the VADOC’s Zero-Tolerance Policy are ineligible for rehire and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
If an offender withdraws an allegation of sexual abuse or sexual harassment, the investigation must continue.
If the allegation is substantiated or unsubstantiated, we recommend not charging the offender since we either proved the offender’s statement was true, or were unable to prove whether the statement was false and made in “bad faith.”
If the investigation concludes that the allegation was unfounded, and it can be proven that the offender made a false allegation in “bad faith,” the offender may receive a disciplinary charge if approved by the Regional PREA Analyst.
We have a Zero Tolerance Policy for sexual misconduct and sexual assault. Operating Procedure 038.3 states:
- The VADOC prohibits and will not tolerate any fraternization or sexual misconduct by staff, contractors, or volunteers with offenders or between offenders as defined in this operating procedure. The VADOC actively works to prevent, detect, report, and respond to any violation. (§115.11[a], §115.211[a])
Any behavior of a sexual nature between employees and offenders is prohibited. Employees are subject to a Group III offense under Operating Procedure 135.1 Standards of Conduct (termination is the presumptive discipline for violations) and may be prosecuted under the Code of Virginia.
- All staff, contractors, and volunteers are required to report any suspicion of fraternization or sexual behavior by staff, contractors, or volunteers with offenders.
- Staff with knowledge of such actions may be subjected to disciplinary action if they fail to report the behaviors.
- Any behavior of a sexual nature by incarcerated offenders is prohibited and subject to disciplinary action per Operating Procedure 861.1 Offender Discipline - Institutions and may result in criminal charges.
- Consensual sexual activity among offenders is not permitted. If offenders engage in this type of activity they will be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with Operating Procedure 861.1 Offender Discipline - Institutions.
- When a facility learns that an offender is subject to a substantial risk of imminent sexual abuse, it shall take immediate action to protect the offender. (§115.62, §115.262)
- Through contracts and Board of Corrections operating standards, facilities and jails that contract for the confinement of VADOC offenders shall include in any new contract or contract renewal the entity’s obligation to adopt and comply with the PREA standards. (§115.12[a], §115.212[a])