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Protecting Inmates and Safeguarding Communities

Award Information

Award #
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2006, $686,028)

The Protecting Inmates and Safeguarding Communities Discretionary Grant Program was created as a result of the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (the Act), Public Law 108-79. The goal of the Act is to eradicate sexual assaults in all of the correctional facilities in this country, be they federal, state, or local in nature. Nevertheless, the statutory focus for this grant program is state and local correctional facilities. This program is divided into two parts: (1) Protecting Inmates and (2) Safeguarding Communities. The Protecting Inmates part focuses on providing funding to state and local agencies for the costs of personnel, training, technical assistance, and data collection in the areas of prevention, investigation, prosecution, and treatment of victims of inmate on inmate sexual assault in a correctional facility. The Safeguarding Communities component of the program focuses on assisting the states in developing and implementing strategies when making release decisions for sexual aggressors without compromising public safety and addressing the needs of the victims after release.

The Arkansas Department of Corrections will utilize the 2006 Protecting Inmates and Safeguarding Communities award to purchase upgraded surveillance equipment in support of its zero-tolerance standard for the prevention of sexual assault and rape within the State's correctional facilities.

Pursuant to the Act, the DOC established policies and procedures that convey a level of zero-tolerance to ensure the protection of incarcerated offenders and those communities in receipt of inmate populations. The AR-DOC created a departmental PREA Committee to insure its pro-active involvement in the prevention, intervention, investigation, and prosecution of perpetrators who have committed sexual assault and/or rape on inmates. To date, the DOC has supported this effort by: (1) Implementing a sexual assault/rape hot-line for inmates; (2) training victim crisis response teams in each institution; (3) providing orientation and continuing education (pamphlets, posters, etc.) training on sexual assault awareness, prevention, and reporting to inmates and correctional staff; (4) segregating high-risk inmates; and (5) re-assessing facility design for possible monitoring enhancements (e.g., adding cameras to blind spots and vision panes on solid doors). During the past two years, the DOC has increased inmate and staff training, enhanced investigation techniques and statistical tracking, and augmented victim support services. The State's DOC proposes to expand these services outward to county and municipal jails and through community corrections.

The AR-DOC indicates that current efforts would be beneficial at all correctional levels, i.e., jail, prison, and parole. The department will support activities under both components of the program and proposes a multi-faceted approach to strengthen the DOC's zero-tolerance standard through the following enhanced awareness and prevention strategies: (1) Increase awareness/reporting of sexual assault and rape through improved [facility] orientation; (2) train staff to become more proactive in prevention measures and crime scene preservation; (3) provide additional monitoring equipment for increased surveillance; (4) ensure that victim services address physical and psychological traumas; (5) encourage inmates to disclose sexual assaults and rape; (6) provide continued community-based services (individual counseling and routine case management) to inmates preparing for re-entry and parolee populations; and (7) create a comprehensive departmental policy, procedure, and programming governing the detection, prevention, intervention, and treatment of sexual assault victimization within the correctional setting.

The Arkansas Department of Corrections will use federal funds to replace obsolete surveillance equipment in each facility with new and upgraded monitoring equipment.


Date Created: August 30, 2006