Prison Rape Elimination Act
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The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) is a federal law designed to prevent, detect and respond to sexual harassment and sexual abuse of individuals in prisons, jails, juvenile detention facilities, lock-up facilities (including those in police departments and courts), and community confinement facilities. All jail and prison facilities are now required to be compliant with these standards, which were issued by the Department of Justice in 2012.
The Cook County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) and the Cook County Department of Corrections (CCDOC) have a zero tolerance policy prohibiting the sexual harassment, sexual abuse or voyeurism of any person in our custody. Per our policy, if any employee discovers that a person in CCSO custody has been sexually abused or sexually harassed or is at substantial risk of imminent sexual abuse, immediate action must be taken to protect him or her.
It is also our policy to provide victims of sexual abuse with the same services victims of sexual abuse would have access to in the community, unless a specific security reason dictates otherwise. To aid victims in our custody, we have contracted with Rape Victim Advocates, a Chicago-based rape crisis center, to provide medical and legal advocacy. Communication between RVA advocates and victims is confidential. We are also in the process of developing a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program at Cermak Health Services, the county-run health care provider for Cook County Jail.
All allegations of sexual abuse will be investigated promptly, thoroughly, and objectively. If sufficient evidence exists, we will seek criminal charges against the offender.
Every employee of the CCSO will accept reports directly from inmates. We will also accept reports from outside of the CCDOC from discharged inmates or from interested third parties, including family members, friends and attorneys. A report can be made by sending an email to CCSO.PREA@cookcountyil.gov. The person making the report should provide as much of the following information as possible:
- Name of the victim, with inmate number
- Name of the offender, if known
- A description of the incident(s)
- The date(s), time(s) and location(s) of the incident(s)
- Name and contact information for others who might have additional information about the incident
- Your name, address and phone number (optional).
Please be aware that we will accept reports for past incidents regardless of how long ago they occurred, but the sooner an incident is reported, the more likely evidence will be available. We encourage discharged inmates who were reluctant to report while in custody to report as soon as possible after their release.
More information about the PREA standards can be found at the website of the PREA Resource Center at www.PREAResourcecenter.org
The Prison Rape Elimination Act (Office-wide)
The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA): Operations Order (CCDOC)
Responding to Allegation of Sexual Abuse or Sexual Harassment of Inmates and Arrestees (CCDOC)
For additional information about the CCSO policy, contact:
PREA Compliance Officer