Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $125,245)
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) operates a Safe Prisons/Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Program with the primary purpose of preventing inmate-on-inmate sexual assaults and other forms of sexual abuse and violence. TDCJ has a “Zero Tolerance” policy regarding prison sexual assault and recognizes that all inmates have the right to complete their incarceration in a safe and secure environment.
The TDCJ Safe Prisons/PREA Management Office (SPPMO) serves as the coordination center for Safe Prisons/PREA activities throughout the agency. The SPPMO conducts statistical analysis of alleged sexual abuse, sexual harassment, retaliation, violence, threats of violence and extortion investigations; monitors each incident to ensure agency compliance with current policies; identifies issues for further policy development; and facilitates training and awareness programs for staff and inmates. The SPPMO does not have dedicated equipment for this purpose and relies on the equipment of another training department to facilitate this training. This limits the quantity and number of staff that can be trained monthly.
The PREA Mobile Training Lab will ensure newly assigned PREA Coordinators receive necessary training by allowing central office staff to conduct training in each region where the staff are assigned. The training encompasses all aspects of their job duties and utilizes a web-based application titled Safe Prisons/PREA Automated Network System (SPPANS) test site, to practice investigative and interview skills when conducting investigations and PREA risk assessments. This proposal will ensure investigators receive training in conducting investigations in confinement settings and the additional equipment and supplies will ensure training is continuously offered without interruption. Staff training will enhance efforts to prevent, detect, and respond to sexual abuse.
The agency is also seeking to enhance inmate education and information by programming tablets that the agency began distributing in 2020. The tablet will be programmed with information intended to enhance efforts to provide information but will not replace existing processes. Inmates will continue to receive written and oral information during intake and interviews for assessments, view postings throughout the facility, and receive comprehensive inmate education through the Peer Education program.
The objectives related to this project will enhance training efforts and strengthen the agency's zero tolerance policy regarding sexual abuse in prisons.