Meeting the Needs of Prison Rape Victims A Technical Assistance Guide for Sexual Assault Counselors and Advocates PENNSYLVANIA COALITION AGAINST RAPE The mission of PCAR is to work to eliminate all forms of sexual violence and to advocate for the rights and needs of victims of sexual violence. At PCAR’s core is the statewide network of sexual violence centers that work in concert with PCAR to administer quality services to survivors and their significant others.
PCAR centers provide 24-hour services, seven days a week, including free and confidential crisis intervention; individual and support group counseling; hospital, court, and police accompaniment; prevention education within schools and the community; and information and referrals. In addition to providing technical assistance in a variety of areas, the role of PCAR is to oversee the sexual violence centers’ contracts; monitor relevant legislation and public policy issues; provide library resources and educational trainings; and create public awareness/prevention campaigns for statewide implementation.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS PCAR wishes to thank Rachel Shupp, BSW, Shippensburg University, class of 2006, for her work on this guide. As part of her senior-year internship at PCAR, Rachel researched the issue of prison rape extensively, visiting various prisons throughout Pennsylvania and responding to letters from victims of prison rape. These experiences and Rachel’s compassion for victims helped inform this publication.
Copyright © 2006 The content of this publication may be reprinted with the following acknowledgement: This material was reprinted from the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape’s publication entitled, Meeting the Needs of Prison Rape Victims: A Technical Assistance Guide for Sexual Assault Counselors and Advocates. This guide is available on our website: pcar. org Meeting the Needs of Prison Rape Victims A Technical Assistance Guide for Sexual Assault Counselors and Advocates TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction The Prison Rape Elimination Act Inmates as Victims Ethical Dilemmas: Working with a Victim who is also an Offender Prison Entry: The Basics Collaborating with Correction Staff Inmate Support Groups State Level Responses in Pennsylvania Conclusion 2 3 3 5 8 10 14 18 19 INTRODUCTION P rison rape has gone largely unaddressed by social service programs; correctional institutions; and until recently, lawmakers in this country. When prison rape is mentioned in the media or general public, it is often in the form of a joke or jest. Nothing about rape is funny, regardless of where or to whom it occurs.
Victims of prison rape are at high risk of becoming victims again, largely because they may be too fearful to reach out for help or when they do, they find services specific to their needs are unavailable. They often fear experiencing further trauma and shame if they come forward. If they do choose to tell someone, their cries are sometimes ignored or disregarded. When victims of prison rape are released-as the majority of inmates areand rejoin our communities, they often suffer a complex interplay of biopsychosocial effects from their victimization. There is a severe lack of research surrounding the frequency of prison rape.
It was approximated that inside correctional facilities in the midwestern region of the country, one in five males experience a pressured or forced sexual incident, and approximately one in 10 males report completed rape (Stop Prisoner Rape, 2006). According to the same study, rates of female sexual assault in prisons in that same region are estimated to range from six percent to 27 percent. Due to underreporting, it is likely that these figures do not capture the full scope of sexual assault in correctional facilities. The incidence of prison rape also varies between institutions, thus increasing he difficulty of acquiring accurate and nationally representative statistical figures. The collection of accurate prison rape data is impeded by limited definitions of “sexual assault” and flawed reporting and response protocol in operation within many correctional institutions throughout our nation. 2 THE PRISON RAPE ELIMINATION ACT (PREA) The problem of prison rape, its underreporting, and lack of appropriate responses to victims were catalysts for the passage of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). Passed in 2003, PREA specifically addresses the issue of rape in correctional institutions and facilities throughout the nation.
The main goal of the law is to support the reduction, elimination, and prevention of rape within correctional facilities at the federal, state, and local levels. PREA also mandates national data collection efforts, provides funding for program development and research, and endorses a national commission to develop standards and accountability measures. Anti-sexual violence coalitions, local rape crisis centers, and correctional institutions are currently collaborating across the country in response to PREA and the needs of prison rape victims.
For more information on such collaborations, see RESHAPE, a Newsletter on the Prison Rape Elimination Act, Issue #18, the National Sexual Assault Coalition Resource Sharing Project, available at http://www. resourcesharingproject. org/ newsletters. html. The main goal of PREA is to support the reduction, elimination, and prevention of rape within correctional facilities at the federal, state, and local levels. INMATES AS VICTIMS Many people carry strongly-held beliefs about prisoners that are not easy to sway.
Some see the inmate population as undeserving of services and that prison rape is a form of poetic justice, or part of the punishment for their delinquent behavior. Prison rape seems to be an accepted norm and almost expected in the prison environment and therefore difficult to address and prevent. Many people blame rape victims for their victimization. Public blame is often magnified when the victim happens to be incarcerated. It is difficult for many people to empathize with “criminals” and to see them as “victims. ” 3 Try to imagine you are living within the walls of a prison.
You can almost touch both walls of your cell when you open your arms as wide as they can go. When you close your eyes, you can still see the graffiti that adorns your walls-desperate pleas of the inmates that came before you. The bars on the window allow only a sliver of sunlight into your cell. You have little or no contact with anyone on the outside and no one you can trust on the inside. You committed a nonviolent crime that you deeply regret. You live in fear everyday of being beaten or raped. The trauma of a rape can be especially devastating to someone who already feels isolated and without power or choices.
Because of the social stigma and shame attached to the issue, it is difficult to tell even a close friend or family member that you have been a victim of rape. Imagine having to tell your story to a perfect stranger who is likely unprepared for or unsympathetic about such a disclosure. If correctional officers and staff are unresponsive, the victim’s mental health status can quickly deteriorate. This can lead to long-term problems that manifest themselves upon this person’s release. Rape not only poses a threat to the mental wellbeing of an individual, but also to the physical health of that person.
For example, HIV and AIDS are a serious threat to the prison population with higher rates of infection than in the general population (Mariner, 2001). 4 ETHICAL DILEMMAS: WORKING WITH A VICTIM WHO IS ALSO AN OFFENDER Advocates bring many skills to their work with victims-professionalism, compassion, empathy, and resourcefulness are just a sampling. Advocates also bring their personal experiences, values, morals, and beliefs to the work, which can strengthen and sometimes hinder services depending on the situation. On one hand, rape crisis advocates and counselors may feel ethically obligated to erve victims of prison rape as well as other traditionally underserved victims such as people of color; males; children; elderly; people with disabilities; people living in poverty; immigrants, refugees, and victims of sex trafficking; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered individuals; and others. On the other hand, rape crisis advocates and counselors may struggle with the idea of helping someone who has potentially hurt another person or has even sexually abused or assaulted someone. It can be a wonderful experience to expand horizons and travel beyond one’s comfort zone.
At the same time, it can also be upsetting to enter into unfamiliar territory or work. Think about what is possible. Prepare. Listen to one’s inner voice and instincts and acknowledge ethical obligations and limitations. Basic Human Rights All humans are entitled to rights, including incarcerated individuals. One basic right that many victims of prison rape do not enjoy is that of safety-whether physical, mental, or spiritual. The rape crisis movement has been dedicated to exposing different types of sexual assault, empowering victims to speak out, and providing services to victims in need.
As we know well, anyone can be a rape victim. There is no room for discrimination in our quest to help survivors of rape. All victims who reach out should be provided with help for past or present sexual assault. Ethical Decision-Making The offender-victim dichotomy is complex. There is no single answer on how to overcome this ethical dilemma but rather, a process of selfreflection that may produce several options. Before meeting with a victim of prison rape, advocates and counselors should reflect on their personal values, morals, beliefs and biases as well as the mission and policies of their parent agency/organization.
Supervision may provide a safe and supportive environment in which this self-reflection and 5 analysis can occur. Discussing the ethical challenges with a trusted colleague can also be helpful. It is important to explore one’s preconceived notions and ideas about the prison population and their sources. Advocates may find the following resource helpful in their ethical decision-making process: Ethics in Victim Services, by Melissa Hook (available from the Sidran Institute, sidran. org). Below are some questions that might help guide advocates in the process of ethical decision-making: 1.
What are the needs of victims of prison rape? 2. What are their resources? 3. What is known or believed about the prison population? 4. What is unknown? 5. What is behind one’s knowledge or feelings about the prison population? 6. What fears and hopes are at play? 7. What past experiences inform present-day feelings, beliefs, fears, and motivations? 8. What are ways to overcome personal and professional barriers in working with the prison population? 9. What opportunities exist to develop and strengthen knowledge, skills, and awareness? 10. What are the ethical principles at play? 1. Which ethical principles are in conflict? 12. Which ethical principle should take priority and why? 13. Are there certain individuals with whom an advocate cannot and should not work because it would be unethical (due to the negative impact the advocate’s personal biases, beliefs, and limitations would have on such individuals)? 14. If an advocate cannot meet the needs of a victim due to the above, who else in the agency/organization can assist the victim? 15. What is the agency/organization’s mission? 16. What is the role of the advocate or counselor within that mission? 6 17.
How do the needs of the prison population fit into that mission? 18. How can the agency/organization meet the needs of the prison population? Working with a Victim who is also a Sexual Assault Offender The ethical discussion gets more complicated when the victim is not only an offender, but also a sexual offender. It may be easier for advocates to work with victims who are incarcerated for nonviolent crime or crimes not of a sexual nature. It may be more difficult to work with a victim who has sexually assaulted or raped someone. In these cases, it is important to remember the parameters of the advocate’s role.
In a direct service capacity, the focus of advocacy is on victimization, not on perpetration. The rape crisis advocate’s role in the counseling capacity, is to help victims process their trauma and heal from victimization, not to address offender issues. It is critical that advocates clarify their role and purpose with the client from the beginning. If offender issues arise, which they may, advocates should be prepared to refocus attention back to the victim experience. It may be necessary to refer the client to another service provider for offender treatment. Keep referral information handy for this purpose.
As always, advocates should consult with their supervisors and agency policies as to whether providing services to victims who are also sexual offenders is even possible. Funding Considerations Advocates may question whether they are able to provide services under provisions of the agency or source that funds their practice. For example, advocates can not use Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funding to “offer rehabilitation services to offenders or to support services to incarcerated individuals, even when the service pertains to the victimization of that individual” (US Department of Justice, p. 4, 1999). Agencies may find that they can use alternative funding streams to provide services to the prison population, such as Department of Public Welfare and other monies. Consulting with supervisors and agency policies and mission statements will help advocates determine whether limitations exist for the provision of services to the prison population. 7 PRISON ENTRY: THE BASICS Entering an unfamiliar territory can be intimidating, especially when it is surrounded by barbed wire and locked gates. The prison environment is very different from other settings where services are provided to victims.
Providing services in prisons requires special consideration and planning. It may be difficult to navigate a prison without prior knowledge or experience. Each correctional institution has a complex set of rules and regulations, but there are some basic things to keep in mind when planning services. A Handbook for the Families and Friends of Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Prison Inmates (available at cor. state. pa. us) provides valuable information to people who are entering the prison environment for the first time (Hardesty & Sturges, 2005).
This handbook is not a blanket policy for all correctional institutions, so it is best to consult individual facilities before attempting to visit. Visits: Correctional facilities have specific protocols that visitors must follow. To visit or call an inmate, sexual assault advocates and counselors must be on that inmate’s approved visitors and phone lists. If an inmate requests services by letter, advocates and counselors should ask to be placed on these said lists (and notified when this has happened).
Remember to request specific information about visiting hours and days, when the inmate is available for contact by telephone, and what kind of assistance he or she would like. For example, does this person need or want information and pamphlets? Does this person want counseling or referrals? When advocates and counselors have been approved to call or visit, they can establish a meeting time. Dress: Each prison has a specific dress code that prohibits certain items of clothing. Short shirts, shorts, halter-tops, and a variety of other articles are deemed inappropriate or prohibited by facilities.
Use judgment when determining wardrobe, but consider dressing somewhat conservatively. As visitors pass through a metal detector before entering the prison, it is best to avoid wearing a lot of metal, such as belt buckles 8 and buttons on a coat. This may delay access to the facility. Also, many facilities are quite large and a lot of walking is often required, so you may wish to wear comfortable shoes that are easy to remove if they need to be inspected. Belongings: There are several items that are considered contraband in Pennsylvania prisons, even though some may seem harmless.
To avoid complications and delays, take as little into the prison as possible. Weapons are prohibited in the prison and on the property, including the parking lots. Weapons may be defined as anything from the obvious such as guns, pocketknives, and cans of mace, to items that seem less threatening, such as nail files, clippers, scissors, and notebooks with metal spiral binding. Some commonly banned items include wallets, handbags, cell phones, electronic devices, weapons (or anything that can be used as a weapon), food, and medications.
For a full list of banned items, contact the prison directly. Your vehicle may be subject to searches as well. A driver’s license is required. If available, bring agency or organization identification. Safety Considerations: Some advocates may question their safety when working in the prison environment. While it is critical that advocates trust their gut instincts, especially if they sense danger, it is also important to challenge stereotypes that all inmates are violent or “bad people. ” There are many nonviolent offenders currently behind bars.
Nonviolent offenders are more likely to become the victims of sexual crimes inside of prison walls than those who have been convicted for more serious crimes (Mariner, 2001). Self-awareness: Before entering a prison it is a good idea to mentally prepare. During the time it takes to travel to the prison, or sometime before, advocates and counselors may want to think about the steps they need to take while at the prison-everything from entering and walking through the prison, how they might feel as they pass inmates, finding the meeting room, meeting with clients, and exiting the prison.
It is strongly suggested that advocates and counselors request to tour the prison, including where they will be meeting with clients, prior to their first session with victims. 9 COLLABORATING WITH CORRECTIONAL STAFF Advocates and counselors who work with victims of prison rape will inevitably have contact with staff at correctional facilities. At a minimum, advocates will rely on the staff for safety and assistance while providing services within the prison environment. At the other end of the spectrum, advocates may find it helpful to collaborate with prison staff in the development and provision of services to victims of prison rape.
Whatever degree of collaboration, it is important to be aware of the distinct roles advocates and corrections personnel fulfill and to discuss those differences with each other from the beginning. It is very important to establish strong working relationships with corrections staff. They are a valuable resource in the advocate’s network and are familiar with the ins and outs of working within a prison system. In cases of uncertainty, staff is often a knowledge source. They may have advice and tips for those who come in from other agencies to work with the prison population.
Counselors, psychological staff, and chaplains are especially helpful because they are in tune with the emotional and supportive needs of the inmates and can provide insight into how victims of sexual assault, past or present, may benefit from different types of programs and services. They may also have ideas about what works and what does not work in a correctional setting. Overall, establishing cooperation and mutual respect with corrections personnel from the beginning of the collaboration will greatly enhance advocates’ work with victims.
It is very important to establish strong working relationships with corrections staff. They are a valuable resource in the advocate’s network and are familiar with the ins and outs of working within a prison system. 10 Training as a First Step towards Collaboration Collaboration may not be possible without adequate training of both corrections staff and rape crisis advocates on the problem of prison rape; the unique needs of its victims; and the differing cultures, goals, and missions of corrections and the anti-sexual violence movement.
Corrections staff and administrators may not be aware of the seriousness of rape in correctional settings. They may lack the skills and knowledge to respond to a sexual assault emergency. Furthermore, they may be ill equipped to address “non-emergency” situations such as rape, sexual abuse, or incest that may have occurred prior to an inmate’s incarceration. Advocates and counselors may also have room to grow and skills to develop in meeting the needs of victims of prison rape. When opportunities arise, engage in cross-training with prison staff.
These exchanges may help rape crisis advocates teach prison staff about sexual violence, the needs of victims, and the goals and mission of rape crisis services. In turn, cross-training will also help rape crisis advocates integrate their services within the prison environment in an effective and informed way. Understanding the Differing Roles of Prison Staff and Rape Crisis Advocates The correctional facility’s staff is primarily concerned with the security of the facility. They are interested in maintaining order and keeping everyone safe.
Advocates’ primary concern is to meet the needs of victims of prison rape and protect their right to confidentiality. Although the correctional personnel may know the role of the advocate, they must still uphold the rules of the facility to keep order. For example, if advocates are running a group and are using supplies, such as scissors or spiral bound notebooks, they may have a problem. Despite the importance to the work, those items may be prohibited and therefore cannot be brought into the facility. It is not uncommon to feel frustrated in having to alter or completely change entire plans when working with inmates. 1 Understanding Confidentiality in the Prison Environment Confidentiality and client-counselor privilege may create a challenge in collaborating with corrections staff. By statute, the communications between sexual assault advocates/counselors and clients are privileged, or confidential. However, prison personnel may not be able to live by this ethic if the threat of danger to staff or inmates exists. For example, corrections officers must share most of the information they receive in order to maintain safety in the institution both for themselves and inmates.
Confidentiality is a cornerstone of the anti-sexual violence movement. It is important that advocates collaborate with corrections staff while maintaining client confidentiality. For technical assistance on this matter, contact PCAR at 1-800-692-7445 or visit pcar. org. Finding Common Ground It is important to point out the differences between correctional staff goals and rape crisis advocate goals. Acknowledging differences is important, but alone it is not an effective way to foster the growth of a professional relationship. It is equally important to identify similarities and common goals.
Both corrections personnel and rape crisis advocates try to protect inmates from harm, by their own hand or others. Rape crisis advocates protect mental health and wellness and corrections employees protect physical status and safety of inmates. This common ground leaves room for collaboration and cooperation. With psychological staff, parole officers, and the prison chaplain, a common goal is rehabilitation. All involved are focused on improving the inmate’s situation and condition-whether through education, counseling, skill development, or other interventions-so he or she can be a productive and functional member of society upon release.
With help, positive changes can occur and the client will become empowered. Empowerment is a goal that both corrections staff and rape crisis seek to realize, just by different means. 12 Developing Positive Working Relationships Rape crisis advocates and prison personnel may not always see eye to eye, but the following tips may help develop positive working relationships: 1. Always show respect for each other. If a person feels respected, he or she will usually reciprocate that respect. 2. Demonstrate tolerance, understanding, and empathy at all times.
Try to see the situation from another perspective. 3. Keep communication lines open. Talk about potential problems before they arise. Be a focused listener, ask questions, and try to inform the staff about the role and purpose of advocacy. A person who understands what is happening is usually less resistant and uncooperative. 4. Look for ways to connect with corrections staff before you enter the prison. Serve on task forces and boards together. 5. Attend trainings on serving victims of prison rape and ways to collaborate with prison personnel. Engage in cross-trainings with corrections staff. . Remember the distinct roles of corrections staff and rape crisis advocates. Acknowledge when these differing roles are at play and find ways to compromise or respectfully agree to disagree. 7. Seek common ground whenever possible in collaborations. Keep the big picture in mind: the needs of victims of prison rape and the ways that corrections staff and rape crisis advocates are united. A strong working relationship with prison personnel will not only help enhance advocates’ experiences and comfort levels inside the prison walls; it will also positively impact victims.
By maintaining positive relationships, advocates will have greater access to victims and prison staff may be more likely to appropriately respond to victims. A strong working relationship with prison personnel will not only help enhance advocates’ experiences and comfort levels inside the prison walls; it will also positively impact victims. 13 INMATE SUPPORT GROUPS Like community-based support groups, facilitating support groups inside of a prison may be challenging, especially if the group is lacking in participation, both in terms of numbers and members’ willingness to share.
Advocates might face challenges unique to the prison population when planning and facilitating support groups. For example, in prison populations, the importance of confidentiality may be even more salient, given the high risk that may exist for victims who are unfortunately trapped under the same roof as their offenders. Victims of prison rape may be even more reluctant to come to a group with “sexual assault” or “victim” in the name, as being identified with such a group may make victims seem even more vulnerable to existing and potential perpetrators within the prison.
Trust may be even more difficult to establish among group members, given the dangers of the environment and the need to look out for oneself. Below are some strategies that may help attract and retain victims of prison rape as well as enhance their experiences with the group. Pick an innocuous name. It may be difficult to attract members to a group with the words “rape,” “sexual assault,” or “victims” in the title. Unfortunately, social stigma surrounding rape and victimization is still potent enough to prevent victims from attending such a group.
Being identified as a “victim” in the prison environment could be dangerous. Choose names that relate to health and wellness, safety, or prevention as opposed to ones that boldly announce they pertain to sexual assault. This may help recruit group members while still leaving room to address the purpose of the group: to address rape and sexual assault issues. Collaborate with prison staff to ensure inmates’ access, protection, and privacy. Prison staff members can be pivotal in getting a support group off the ground.
They can make the groups accessible to inmates by enabling inmates to attend such groups. Furthermore, prison staff members can protect group members’ safety and privacy among the larger prison population by keeping their participation in such groups confidential. 14 Combine your resources with allies. When developing a new group, it can be helpful to build upon existing relationships and partnerships with allied professionals. Combining resources with others may help advocates reach a wider audience in a more holistic way, focusing on more than one topic or issue.
Collaboration allows allied professionals to address the complex relationships between sexual violence and other social struggles, such as substance abuse, domestic violence, poverty, and other issues. Often, substance abuse and dependency is a form of self-medication or a way to cope with past sexual abuse. Even if the sessions do not directly deal with sexual assault issues, the topics still have potential to bring rape issues into the spotlight if they are in a related area. Collaborating with allied professionals may help advocates get their programs into prisons.
Partnering with other professionals also enables advocates to address multiple issues in the group setting, thereby meeting the needs of individual victims holistically. Screen participants. Advocates should screen each potential group member before he or she enters the group. Screening helps to ensure group membership includes voluntary victims who are ready to address their experiences in a group setting. The following questions may help advocates screen potential group members: 1. What experiences bring you to the group? 2.
What do you hope to gain from this group? 3. What do you hope to offer other group members? 4. Would you have any concerns/difficulties in engaging in discussions about sexual violence victimization? 5. Are you prepared to protect confidentiality and the privacy of other group members? Determine if the group will be closed or open. A closed group is one in which new members are not allowed to join from week to week, or after the group has been officially established. An open group is one in which members are allowed to join and drop off from week to week.
There are benefits and drawbacks associated with each group composition. A closed group may help establish and maintain a stronger sense of trust and group cohesion among members. In a closed group, the curriculum or content of each session can build upon the previous week in a linear way. An open group may reach more victims, 15 as it is available to new members from week to week. Whichever format, advocates should learn about group dynamics and be prepared to address the challenges and build upon strengths of any group.
Obtain ongoing training in group facilitation and dynamics. Even the most seasoned advocates can benefit from ongoing group work training. Knowledge is continuously evolving, as are the needs of victims. Advocates new to the field of prison rape may benefit from trainings specific to the inmate population. Involve group in establishing ground rules and goals of group. Retaining membership in groups can be difficult, but there are a few things that can be done to increase retention. Involve group members in establishing the ground rules.
This generates individual members’ investment in the group and its progress. Such ground rules should cover basics such as punctuality, confidentiality, communication during group (one person speaks at a time), the need for breaks or individual support, showing respect for others, and expectations for behavior. Remember, the group can continue to add ground rules to the list as the group unfolds and as the need arises. Structure and rules can help create a safe and inviting atmosphere. Develop and safeguard trust. Allow appropriate time for group members to get to know each other.
Inmates may be distrusting of other inmates and especially of staff and other outside authority figures. Give them the opportunity to warm up before starting intensive work. Keep groups relatively small so that members can build a sense of rapport with facilitator(s) and other participants. Empower group members as active leaders. Listen to group members. Seek their input. People are more likely to keep attending a group if they are involved in decision making. Plan a topic or discussion, but be flexible and go with the flow.
Allow group members to lead the discussion rather than pushing a preconceived agenda. Gently guide the group back onto topic if necessary. 16 Lighten up! Balance challenging individual and group processes with fun activities when appropriate and possible. There are plenty of engaging activities that foster personal growth and strengthen bonds between members. Interspersing lighter content between heavier sessions can help the group’s cohesion and collective mental health. If the group is not enjoyable from time to time, advocates may lose group members.
These ideas are applicable to working with any group. While it is important to identify and meet the unique needs of the prison population, victims of prison rape deserve and can benefit from many of the same approaches and efforts advocates use with non-incarcerated victims. Victims of prison rape may be even more reluctant to come to a group with “sexual assault” or “victim” in the name, as being identified with such a group may make victims seem even more vulnerable to existing and potential perpetrators within the prison. 17 STATE-LEVEL RESPONSES IN PENNSYLVANIA
Since January 2005, the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR) has been working with the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, the Pennsylvania Office of the Victim Advocate, and law enforcement officers to develop prison rape prevention curricula for inmates and corrections staff. It is their goal to increase awareness about sexual crimes that occur during terms of imprisonment, to encourage reporting of and responses to sexual assault and rape, and to support prison personnel and rape crisis advocates in meeting the needs of victims.
This state-level collaboration has resulted in two sexual assault training curricula-one for inmates and one for prison staff. The inmate curriculum is now provided in all state facilities to inmates at orientation and at annual reviews with counselors. All state corrections staff members now complete a sexual assault training program-which includes an overview of sexual assault, prevention, reporting policies and protocol, the needs of victims, and services in Pennsylvania-by computer as part of their job requirements.
The hope is that these two curricula will improve responses and services to victims of prison rape as well as prevent sexual violence from occurring within the prison environment. Additionally, statewide training and technical assistance will be available to both corrections staff and rape crisis advocates as a means to supporting their work with victims of prison rape at the local level. For more information, contact PCAR at 1800-692-7445 or visit pcar. org for more information. 18 CONCLUSION The Prison Rape Elimination Act marks an important shift in our society.
Its passage helps place the needs of victims of prison rape on the radar of social service agencies and correctional institutions throughout the country. Victims of prison rape have gone largely unnoticed and worse, ignored for too long. Working with any “new” group or population can present challenges. Advocacy within the prison setting may pose unique barriers and rewards. While it is important to identify and address potential limitations and concerns, it is equally important to acknowledge and build upon strengths and resources in meeting the needs of victims of rison rape. Collaboration-with corrections staff, community allies, and others-is integral to this work and reaching victims. Victims of prison rape depend on rape crisis centers for support. It is likely that they will not receive help from any other source. RESOURCES ON PRISON RAPE Human Rights Watch (212) 290-4700; hrw. org National Sexual Assault Coalition Resource Sharing Project Newsletter on the Prison Rape Elimination Act, Issue #18, Spring 2006 (319) 339-0899; http://www. resourcesharingproject. org/newsletters. tml National Sexual Violence Resource Center 877-739-3895; nsvrc. org Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape 1-800-692-7445; pcar. org Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (717) 975-4859; cor. state. pa. us Pennsylvania Office of the Victim Advocate 800. 563. 6399; http://www. pbpp. state. pa. us/ova/site/default. asp The Pennsylvania Prison Society 800-227-2307; prisonsociety. org Stop Prisoner Rape (213) 384-1400; spr. org 19 REFERENCES Hardesty, K. , & Sturges, J. (2005). A handbook for the families and friends of Pennsylvania department of corrections prison inmates.
Retrieved February 21, 2006 from www. cor. state. pa. us/portal/lib/bis/Handbook_for_Families_and_Friends. pdf Mariner, J. (2001). No escape: Male rape in U. S. prisons. Retrieved March 1, 2006 from www. spr. org Stop Prisoner Rape. (200). The basics on rape behind bars. Retrieved February 22, 2006 from www. spr. org. US Department of Justice. (1999). Subgrantees’ training guide: Victims of Crime Act assistance grant program (NCJ 175717). Washington, DC: US Department of Justice. 20 This guide was funded in part by a National Institute of Corrections grant.