A PREA Audit or a PREA Scheme
A Memorandum issued by the PREA Auditors of America was recently posted in all dorms and other areas here at Dillwyn Correctional Center where incarcerated people frequent advising us of the following:
“The Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC) will be conducting an audit for Compliance with the United States Department of Justice’s National Standards to Prevent, Detect, and Respond to Prison Rape under the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) for Its Adult Detention Facility.”
The scheduled dates of the PREA Audit are from September 26th-28th, 2023.
The Memorandum further advises:
“Any person with relevant information pertaining to this compliance Audit may * confidentially * correspond with the Auditor via the following address:
Ron Kidwell P.O. Box 193 Palmyra, Virginia 22963
“CONFIDENTIALITY. All correspondence and disclosures during interviews with the designated auditor are CONFIDENTIAL and will not be disclosed unless required by law. There are exceptions when confidentiality must be legally broken. Exceptions include, but are not limited to the following:
If the person is an immediate danger to him/herself or others (e.g., suicide or homicide)
Allegations of suspected child abuse, neglect, or maltreatment
In legal proceedings where information has been subpoenaed by a court of appropriate jurisdiction.”
The Prison Rape Elimination Act or PREA was passed by the U.$. Congress and codified into federal law as Title 42 U.S.C.A. section 15601. It was passed in response to the high incidents of rape and other forms of sexual violence incarcerated people were subjected to in prisons across the country.
Despite the language of PREA, it does not stop, prevent or reduce the rape and sexual violence of incarcerated people. As an example, the rape and sexual assaults against women at the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, California in the years before 2022 was so bad the prison was called the “rape club” by incarcerated women and prison staff alike. Even the Warden of the prison at the time, Ray J. Garcia, took part in raping and sexually exploiting women at the prison.
The real purpose of PREA was to create a set of national standards (also called PREA standards) by the U.$. Attorney General that state and federal prison systems can give the appearance of being in compliance with in order to gain accreditation and federal grant money from the U.$. Department of Justice.
PREA Audits as they are currently conducted do not work and will never work for the following reasons:
As the above quoted Memorandum reveals, prison officials are given advanced notice their prisons will be audited for PREA compliance. This advanced notice sets in motion a scheme whereby prison officials began the process of cleaning up and beautifying the prison before PREA auditors arrive, both literally and figuratively. I have witnessed time and time again how in the days leading up to the audit, incarcerated people are instructed to paint walls, plant flowers, and wax and buff the floors. Guards and prison staff begin acting nice and treating incarcerated people with a little bit more dignity and respect. A special meal is sometimes serviced to incarcerated people either on the day of the audit or on the day before. In some cases, a prison may go on an unexpected lockdown where incarcerated people are locked in their cells on the day of the audit. All of this is done to placate/pacify incarcerated people so they’ll be least likely to give the PREA auditors a “bad report” or, in the case of the unexpected lockdown, to prevent them from giving a report altogether.
In order for the PREA audit to be truly effective, they must be conducted without prison officials having prior notice of the date and time of the audit.
In addition to that, incarcerated people must be allowed to communicate freely with auditors in a confidential setting. This is often not possible because PREA auditors are accompanied by brass and are deliberately led on a prearranged course throughout the prison that keeps them out of contact with incarcerated people and out of the housing areas where incarcerated people live and sleep.
Incarcerated people must not be retaliated against for making complaints about having been raped and sexually assaulted by prison staff. I know of many fellow incarcerated people who have been harassed, threatened, moved to another housing unit, transferred to another prison, and written bogus infractions in retaliation for submitting PREA complaints. This sort of retaliation chills other incarcerated people’s desire to submit PREA complaints which allows their abusers to escape accountability.
Lastly, the only real solution to ending the rape and sexual violence of incarcerated people is to abolish the Prison Industrial Complex. If there are no prisons, then there can be no prison rape.
All Power to the People Who Don’t Fear Freedom!
MIM(Prisons) responds: We actually think we can do a lot to eliminate rape for all people before abolishing prisons. Prisons are a tool of class struggle. In the control of a communist government, prisons would be revolutionized to serve the people. There would be an end to the torturous practices so common in capitalist prisons of isolation, heat, lack of health care and physical and sexual assaults.
Unlike prisons, rape and sexual violence are forms of oppression that cannot serve the people. While the path to eliminating any of these things remains long and challenging. Previous revolutionary societies have made quick progress in the realm of reducing and almost eliminating many forms of gender oppression. So we call on those who want to put an end to rape and sexual violence to join us in the struggle to end imperialism and replace it with a system in the hands of the international proletariat.