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Software May Help Correctional Facilities Abide by PREA Standards

Josh Jaquish is a technology and business consulting executive with nearly 20 years of experience. Read More

After the United States' Prison Rape Elimination Act was passed into law, correctional institutions throughout the country had problems putting the new policy into action. Although many of these facilities have adequate surveillance tools, systems used to process the recorded information are somewhat lackluster. Anticipating deviant behavior before it occurs poses as a challenge for prison authorities, which has led many to look toward cloud applications and various software solutions for assistance.

Easier Said Than Done

Despite the fact that PREA was enacted more than a decade ago, it's difficult to change the protocols of every prison in the U.S. According to National Public Radio, it took an assembly of experts nearly five years to write the new standards and then an additional three for commission members to argue over which ones should be put into legislature.

Mary Leary, principal deputy assistant attorney general for the U.S. Justice Department, explained that PREA's mandates require state institutions to train staff on preventing sexual assault, reporting them properly and providing victims with rape kits and counseling. In addition, organizations must comply with regular audits or risk losing 5 percent of their federal prison grant funding.

Some professionals, such as David Wolinski, Maryland's PREA coordinator, believe that advanced technology could be of some assistance. If each incident is assiduously reported and logged into a private cloud database, it would be easier for corrections officers to anticipate and therefore prohibit rape.

Lawmakers Giving Up?

Many legislators have expressed budgetary concerns, as well as the limited capabilities of prison staff. The Texas Tribune reported that Texas state governor Rick Perry penned a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder in March, stating that while PREA's intent is admirable, it's impractical to implement it.

Texas has 267 state prisons and local jails, an expansive territory in which the law's guidelines and regulations must be implemented by May 15, a certification deadline set by the Department of Justice for nationwide correctional facilities. Perry told the news source that enforcing PREA will come at a heavy monetary cost.

"Absent standards that acknowledge the operational realities in our prisons and jails, I will not sign your form and I will encourage my fellow governors to follow suit," Perry wrote to Holder, as quoted by the news source.

Some institutions have deployed convict-specific solutions, such as Tribridge's​ Offender360 Management software, which gives correctional authorities as a comprehensive view of a prisoner's history, current behavior and location. This system could be of great assistance to those working in the penal system looking to abide by PREA standards.

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