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Report on Use of Administrative Segregation under PREA, National PREA Resource Center, 2015

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Keeping Vulnerable Populations Safe
under PREA: Alternative Strategies to
the Use of Segregation in Prisons and
Allison Hastings, Angela Browne, Kaitlin Kall,
and Margaret diZerega

April 2015

Table of Contents

Introduction .....................................................................................................................................3
A Brief Look at the Use of Segregated Housing and Protective Custody in the U.S. ....................................5
Why Does Use of Segregation Matter? .................................................................................................5
Managing People Who Screen at Risk for Sexual Abuse in General Population ...........................................7
Managing Particularly High-Risk Populations ....................................................................................... 11
Conclusion ..................................................................................................................................... 18
Endnotes........................................................................................................................................ 20

The PREA Resource Center (PRC), a project run through a cooperative agreement between
the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and the National Council on Crime and Delinquency
(NCCD), is working to address sexual safety in confinement, and to assist state and local
jurisdictions with implementation of the Department of Justice National PREA Standards.

Notice of Federal Funding and Federal Disclaimer – This project was supported by Grant
No. 2010-RP-BX-K001 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Bureau of Justice
Assistance is a component of the Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of
Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and
Delinquency Prevention, the Office for Victims of Crime, and the SMART Office. Points of view
or opinions in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the
official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice nor those of the National Council
on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD), which administers the National PREA Resource Center
through a cooperative agreement with the Bureau of Justice Assistance.

Page 2


Although there is some overlap, the effects of

The purpose of this guide is to provide prison and

development and considerations for behavior

jail administrators and staff with strategies for

(e.g., emotional outbursts) for young people in

safely housing inmates at risk of sexual abuse

juvenile detention facilities distinguish them from

without isolating them. Inmates at risk for sexual

adult populations in confinement. The PREA

victimization—whether identified through

standards for juvenile facilities set specific

screening or victimized in confinement—need

requirements for limiting the use of isolation for

protection from abusers, equal access to

youth in juvenile detention and are not included in

programming and health and mental health

this guide.

confinement on physical, mental, and social

services, and congregate opportunities.
This guide will (a) briefly review the use of
segregated housing and protective custody in the
United States, (b) note potential outcomes of
isolation that motivated the construction of the
PREA standards (“standards”) restricting the use
of segregation, and (c) present promising
strategies for implementing the standards without
isolating at-risk populations in prisons and jails.
The guide includes discussions of populations at
particularly high risk for sexual abuse in
confinement: women; youthful inmates in adult
facilities; and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender,
intersex (LGBTI) individuals, and gender
nonconforming inmates. Most of the strategies
discussed are drawn from practices used by state
prison systems. However, these strategies—and
the principles behind them—apply to jails. The
PREA standards for community confinement
facilities and lockups do not address protective
custody or other types of segregated housing,
since long-term isolating conditions are not
considered an issue in those facilities. Community
confinement facilities and lockups are not,
therefore, discussed here.

Page 3

The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA),
a federal law enacted in 2003, was created to
eliminate sexual abuse in confinement. In
addition to providing federal funding for
research, programs, training, and technical
assistance to address the issue, the
legislation mandated the development of
national standards. The National Prison Rape
Elimination Commission developed
recommended national standards for reducing
prison rape. The final standards became
effective June 20, 2012, when they were
published by the U.S. Department of Justice
(DOJ) in the Federal Register. The standards
were added as part 115 of Title 28 of the
Code of Federal Regulations. Accordingly, the
standards for adult prisons and jails are
numbered 115.11 through 115.93. On May 6,
2014, the U.S. Department of Homeland
Security (DHS) released final standards for
DHS confinement facilities.

Applicable PREA Standards

other means of separating them from likely

The following PREA standards have direct bearing

abusers without temporary segregation.

on keeping at-risk inmates safe with the least
disruption in services, activities, and normalized


Post-allegation protective custody


The requirements outlined in the protective

Screening for risk of victimization and

custody standard above also apply for

abusiveness (115.41)

alleged victims of sexual abuse that

Under this standard, correctional agencies

occurred while in confinement.

must assess all inmates in adult facilities
for risk of being sexually abused or


Youthful inmates (115.14)

sexually abusive. Screenings must occur

A youthful inmate is a person younger

during intake, on transfer to another

than 18 years of age who is under adult

facility, and when there is new

court supervision and incarcerated or

information or a sexually abusive incident.

detained in an adult prison or jail (115.14).

High-quality screenings are key to making

Adult facilities confining youthful inmates

sound decisions about housing,

must not place these inmates in a housing

programming, and work assignments.

unit where they will have sight, sound, or
physical contact with adult inmates


Use of screening information (115.42)

through use of a shared dayroom, other

Information gained during screening must

common space, shower area, or sleeping

then be used to inform housing, bed, work,

area. Facilities must make every effort to

education, and program assignments, with

avoid placing youthful inmates in isolation

the goal of keeping inmates at high risk of

in their attempts to meet this standard.

sexual victimization separate from those at

Youthful inmates may participate in

high risk of sexually abusing others. This

congregate and other activities with adult

standard includes sections on housing

inmates if there is direct supervision at all

LGBTI individuals and responses to


transgender and intersex inmates.


Protective custody (115.43)
This standard emphasizes that individuals
deemed at high risk for sexual abuse
should not be placed in “involuntary”
segregated housing unless all available
alternatives have been assessed and a
determination made that there are no

Page 4

A Brief Look at the Use of
Segregated Housing and
Protective Custody in the

committing violations in order to protect

Since the 1980s, U.S. prisons and jails have relied

populations who are often placed in segregated

on the use of segregation to manage difficult

housing for protection.4 Although they may have

populations.2 Originally intended to handle

no violations and may not pose a threat to staff or

dangerous inmates and those who had committed

others, they are typically housed in units with the

very serious infractions, over time, the use of

same intensive security procedures, levels of

segregated housing expanded to include a high

isolation, restricted human interactions, and

proportion of individuals with violations that are

reduced access to programs and mental health

disruptive but not violent. Now inmates may end

care.5 This restricts congregate and programming

up in segregated housing for infractions such as

options and is an ineffective use of security

talking back, being out of place, failing to report

resources. It also creates barriers to effective

to work or school, refusing to participate in

service provision due to the high security and

programs, or refusing to change housing units or

restricted movement practices in segregation.

themselves from harm in the general population.
Inmates with serious mental illness and those
with developmental disabilities are among the

Although it varies by jurisdiction, segregation or
solitary confinement is used most commonly to

Why Does Use of
Segregation Matter?

punish individuals in confinement for rule

Conditions of Isolation

violations (disciplinary or punitive segregation),

Segregated inmates are typically taken out of

remove inmates from the general facility

their cells for one hour out of every 24, for

population who are thought to pose a risk to

recreation or a shower, five days a week. Before

security or safety (administrative segregation),

being released from their cells, inmates are cuffed

and protect individuals believed to be at risk in

and may be shackled at the waist and placed in

the general facility population (protective

leg irons. Recreation (exercise) is typically taken

custody). Other reasons include ensuring the

alone in an empty outdoor caged area or indoor

safety of inmates under investigation and holding

room. Except when overcrowding requires double

those awaiting hearings. Involuntary protective

celling, face-to-face human contact with

custody occurs when an individual is placed in

individuals other than corrections officers is

segregated housing against his or her will.

virtually eliminated in segregated housing.

Voluntary protective custody refers to housing

Officers deliver meal trays through a slot in the

requested by an individual. Inmates at risk for

door, and counselors and mental health staff

sexual victimization or physical violence

conduct visits through the cell door.6

sometimes request protective custody or put
themselves in disciplinary segregation by
Page 5

Individuals in segregated housing are typically not

development may be especially damaging.10

allowed contact with others in confinement, and

During the formative stage of adolescence, when

visits with family members are curtailed and may

basic developmental needs for interaction and

be prohibited. Some individuals stay in

guidance are not met, youth may be

segregated housing for years, without the

developmentally unable to view the isolation as

opportunity to engage in the types of human

temporary, to self-soothe, to reason with

interaction, programming, and education that

themselves about delaying relief, or to stabilize

would help them adjust when reentering the

themselves without support and training.

general facility population or society.

Youth are particularly vulnerable to depression

Impacts of Isolation

and agitation when isolated, which may be

Increasing evidence suggests that holding people

expressed by irritability and acting out, leading to

in isolation with minimal human contact for

additional segregation time and sometimes to

weeks, months, or years can create or exacerbate

self-harm. Research on children who were abused

serious mental health problems and assaultive or

or neglected also provides evidence that past

anti-social behavior, and lead to decreases in

experiences of trauma increase vulnerability, even

physical health and functioning.7 Incidents of self-

to mild stressors, and they may respond

harm and suicide also are significantly higher in

aggressively to control attempts and perceived

segregated housing than in general facility

threats when memories of past abuse have been

housing.8 An additional concern is the chilling


effect that fear of being placed in involuntary
segregated housing—with the severe conditions
and lack of family visits—may have on victims’
reporting of sexual abuse, especially if such
placements are the typical response of a facility to
reports of sexual abuse and the need for
protection is long term.9

If the facility’s typical response to a
report of sexual abuse is placing the
victim in involuntary segregated housing,
this may significantly suppress reporting
at the facility.

Fiscal Costs of Isolation
Holding people in long-term isolation is also
expensive. It may cost two-to-three times as
much to house an inmate in segregation as in
general population units.12 The majority of the
higher costs come from the need for additional
staff to monitor segregation units and manage the
movement of the inmates held in them. For
example, escorting inmates one at a time to and
from showers, exercise areas, and needed
appointments is usually conducted by two officers
for each inmate. Procedures in segregation units
may necessitate twice as many security staff as in
non-restricted housing.

For youthful inmates in segregation, effects of
isolation and lack of positive programming and

Segregated housing units also require staff from

congregate opportunities on cognitive and social

all disciplines since services must be delivered to

Page 6

each individual. The intensive security procedures

based on screening, interviews, and other

in segregation also make it difficult to provide

documentation, corrections professionals—

programming, face-to-face mental health

including medical and mental health staff—should

treatment, and reentry services and planning,

review that case, talk to the individual, and make

further inhibiting the preparation of these

informed decisions (in consultation with others)

individuals for successful release back to the

about where that person could be housed, work,

general population or from custody. Given the

and participate in programs within the

current pressure on states’ budgets, many

confinement setting with the least risk and the

stakeholders are exploring the use of alternatives

most constructive activities.

to segregation. Some of these alternatives,
explained in this guide, may reduce financial

Some jurisdictions have found ways to

burdens on taxpayers and jurisdictions, increase

successfully manage individuals who specifically

the cost-efficiency of facility operations by

screen as vulnerable to sexual abuse within

reducing or eliminating practices such as the use

general population housing units. Jurisdictions

of expensive high-security staff, and enable

that do this effectively have three major

agencies to focus resources on inmate programs

characteristics in common. First, they emphasize

and interventions that are more likely to achieve

the importance of a strong screening and re-

positive outcomes.


Managing People Who
Screen at Risk for Sexual
Abuse in General Population
The standards are particularly concerned with
protective custody that is isolating and with
“involuntary segregated housing”—placement in
protective custody or segregation/isolation

screening process administered by trained staff
and monitored by high-level supervisors. Second,
they manage and deploy their existing staff
resources to keep vulnerable inmates safe. Third,
all decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.
This guide offers instructive examples from
several jurisdictions whose correctional agencies
have found ways to protect the safety of
vulnerable inmates in general population settings.

mandate that isolation be used only when no

Incorporating PREA Screening
Requirements into Internal
Classification Systems

other alternatives are available and all other

In Wyoming, corrections leaders and case

options have been explored (115.43).

managers collaborated with a consultant starting

against the wishes of the inmate or youthful
inmate. The standards discussed in this guide

in 1991 to design a valid, reliable classification
A range of strategies exists to safely maintain

system. When the PREA standards were issued,

vulnerable people in general population without

the Wyoming Department of Corrections

resorting to segregation. A key element of these

(WYDOC) worked to incorporate the screening

strategies is individualized decision making. If

requirements into its internal classification

someone is flagged as vulnerable to sexual abuse

process and housing matrices, which were already

Page 7

designed to help identify and manage potentially
violent inmates. All inmates in WYDOC have a

Using Case Management Systems to
Manage Vulnerable Inmates

two-part classification label—the first part

Oregon also has worked for years to create safer

designates their custody level (e.g., maximum,

prisons and implement PREA requirements.15 The

medium, or minimum), and the second part

Oregon Department of Corrections’ (ODOC’s)

indicates their aggression level (in Wyoming, this

model for keeping vulnerable inmates safe is

is denoted as Altus, Medius, and Brevis).


based on identifying and tracking indicators of
vulnerability and taking a more intensive case

Once they have been classified, inmates are

management approach to those who screen at

assigned to a housing unit based on matrices the

highest risk for victimization. In Oregon, those

WYDOC developed for each of its prisons. It never

considered at highest risk for victimization are

houses potentially highly aggressive Altus inmates

inmates who were previously sexually abused in

with its least aggressive Brevis inmates, and it

confinement or who score positive for more than

decides how to mix in moderately aggressive

three victimization risk factors. During intake, all

Medius inmates on a case-by-case basis. These

inmates are screened for risk of sexual

screening procedures and housing matrices are

victimization and abusiveness. A sexual abuse

dynamic; they can and do change as facility or

liaison (a position that varies from facility to

agency needs change. Altus and Brevis inmates

facility) reviews cases where inmates score at risk

are sometimes assigned to the same programs. In

for victimization or abusiveness. If someone is

those cases, additional staff are deployed to

determined to be at risk for sexual victimization

supervise that program. The key to the success of

or abusiveness, he or she goes on ODOC’s “PREA

this approach is that executive staff make sure all

Watchlist.” The PREA Watchlist is a database that

case managers and classification staff are well

ODOC developed to track individuals who are

trained and understand that the WYDOC screens

potentially vulnerable or sexually abusive within

and houses all inmates in this way to create safe

and across ODOC facilities for the duration of their

living conditions that do not rely on segregation.



Establish strong screening and rescreening tools and processes


Make individualized decisions for
vulnerable inmates

In ODOC, every facility has an internal Sexual
Abuse Response Team (SART), which, at a
minimum, consists of three team members who
are representatives from medical, mental health,
and security disciplines. All SART members
volunteer to serve on these teams. The SART is
responsible for responding to actual incidents of
sexual abuse and does intensive, individualized
case management for particularly at-risk inmates.
Those inmates who screen at highest risk for

Page 8

sexual victimization or abusiveness are assigned a

and those with very serious infractions. Although

SART member, who acts as a case manager. This

some individuals may sleep in single cells,

case manager meets privately with the inmate to

congregate activities are available during the day

check in, ask how things are going, and discuss

in dayrooms, classrooms, and recreation areas.

any safety or behavioral concerns. Each inmate’s

Interactions with service providers and counselors

adjustment, status, and concerns are reviewed at

are face-to-face rather than through a cell door.

SART meetings.

This strategy meets PREA standards for access to

Over time, check-ins between an individual and
the case manager occur less frequently.
Eventually the individual may cease to have a
PREA designation altogether. Practitioners have
found this to be a more effective form of tracking
and monitoring than relying solely on a PREA
screening checklist for the most at-risk inmates in

programming and normalized interactions and
avoids managing vulnerable and nonviolent
individuals with the same high-security restrictive
procedures as violent and abusive inmates. Once
established, these units are less costly to operate
than high-security segregation units. Jurisdictions
have demonstrated that this can be done even
with a challenging mix of protective custody

This type of case management process can be an
effective strategy for keeping vulnerable inmates
safe in general population.

Open Housing Units in General
Some jurisdictions have created general


Mix compatible populations


Provide in-unit congregate
opportunities, services, and

population settings with careful screening for
admission (i.e., no inmates at high risk of
abusiveness) that mix compatible populations
(e.g., people deemed vulnerable to sexual abuse
with those who may be vulnerable for other
reasons), creating units large enough to merit
self-contained programming, work, and other
services and activities. This housing approach also
can include LGBTI individuals believed to be at
risk for sexual abuse without segregating them
based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
The emphasis is on increased use of alternatives
and decreased use of highly restrictive housing,
except for individuals at high risk of abusiveness

Page 9

Although it is not used to house people who
screen as sexually vulnerable or abusive, New
Mexico’s Corrections Department has created a
model where male inmates with sex offense
convictions, ex-law enforcement officers, and
disaffiliated gang members requiring protection
are successfully integrated into separate units
that operate similarly to general population
housing. Inmates eat together, take recreation
together, go to school and church together, and
participate in a wide range of classroom and
group-based programming. Classrooms and
dayrooms during congregate activities are quiet,

safe, orderly, and interactive. This model could be

health, and other aspects (e.g., age, cognitive

adapted to combine people who are vulnerable to

disabilities) are assessed to identify special

sexual abuse with other non-aggressive

needs; a more focused PREA risk assessment


follows. Decisions on placement in housing,
programs, and work assignments are then made

Mission-Specific Housing

based on the combined findings. Needs for

Mission-specific housing, targeted to special needs

specialized programs and services are also

populations (e.g., those with mental illness,

considered. A monitoring plan is established for

developmental and intellectual disabilities, or

inmates who score at risk for sexual victimization

physical disabilities), has also proven successful in

or abusiveness.

some jurisdictions. These housing units have outof-cell programming and provide daily

If the risk appears moderate, this is taken into

opportunities for individuals with special needs to

account in placement decisions, and periodic

interact with other inmates and staff during meals

check-ins are conducted. Higher levels of

and recreation, dayroom, and work activities.16

identified risk result in mental health and medical

Scheduled activities (e.g., recreation) occur on

referrals, frequent check-ins, and collaboration

the unit and disciplinary violations are handled on

with unit staff to closely monitor interactions and

the unit whenever possible to avoid the circulation

well-being. All cases are decided on an individual

of inmates through disciplinary segregation.

basis and are re-evaluated each time the

Housing that meets the needs of these

individual is transferred, a concern arises, or an

populations reduces the number of vulnerable

incident is suspected or reported. WADOC places

people held in segregation. For maximum

a priority on training staff to work with special

effectiveness, these units should be located where

populations within the general population based

it is easiest to hire and retain mental health and

on inmate characteristics and needs.

social work staff.
The Washington State Department of Corrections
(WADOC) describes its approach to placement of


Housing should be targeted to
special needs

vulnerable and special needs populations as
guided by a “mission-based strategy that


Schedule activities on the unit

enhances place safety (the process of


Handle violations on the unit

understanding risks and needs and matching
those with housing and procedures that mitigate
the risks).”17 As in the previous examples,
WADOC relies on screening to take into account
multiple characteristics and needs of individuals
entering the system. First, medical, mental
Page 10

whenever possible

After a WADOC study found that at least 12

facility blind spots where abuse might happen; (c)

percent of the prison population had significant

specially trained staff; and (d) interdisciplinary

cognitive impairments, WADOC created the Skill

staff decision making, case planning, and

Building Unit (unit) to meet the needs of male

interactions with inmates on the units. Safety

inmates with developmental disabilities (DD),

cannot simply be assumed once individuals are in

intellectual disabilities (ID), and traumatic brain

alternative housing, however. Effective screening

injuries (TBI).


and re-screening for risk of abuse or abusiveness
and changes in risk (115.41) remain essential in

The unit is located in repurposed space and

maintaining safety.

provides specialized general population housing
where inmates can receive treatment, participate

In addition to implementing promising practices,

in supported work and program activities, and be

agency policies also need to be revised to

protected from abuse. This reduces the need for

prioritize housing high-risk populations in need of

inmates with DD/ID/TBI to be housed in

protection in specialized units in general

segregation and consolidates service delivery.

population or mission-specific housing whenever

Unit staff are trained in responding to individuals

possible, rather than in segregation/isolation.

with special needs and helping them live safe and

Agency and facility staff members also need to

healthy lives. WADOC reports that staff training

review currently segregated populations and

has resulted in safer living conditions for inmates

relocate vulnerable individuals to appropriate

and safer working conditions for staff.

alternative service and program-enriched general
population housing, based on risk and needs.

Use of alternative strategies to
segregation for individuals at high risk of
sexual abuse enhances their safety

Managing Particularly HighRisk Populations

without the debilitation of isolation and

Some populations are at particularly high risk of

the individualized restraints and escort

sexual and physical abuse during confinement.

procedures common in segregation units.

The following section discusses high-risk groups
and presents strategies for housing them while

Key Considerations for Managing
People Who Screen At Risk for
Sexual Abuse in General Population

meeting the PREA standards for access to mental

Key components to housing vulnerable inmates


safely without relying on segregation include: (a)

health and other services, programming, and
congregate opportunities.

security presence in congregate areas (not just in

Although the PREA standards do not address them

bubbles or towers) to assure safety in congregate

specifically, women are more likely to screen as

activities; (b) attention to unmonitored areas and

high risk for sexual abuse related to past histories

Page 11

of child and adult trauma. For example, women in

One complication faced by agencies is protecting

the criminal justice system report more extensive

women from potential abusers if there is only one

victimization histories—including lifetime histories

prison for women in a state or limited jail beds in

of sexual and physical abuse—than women who

a county, a common occurrence in many smaller

have not been incarcerated or men who have

jurisdictions. In these agencies, there are fewer


been incarcerated.

In one study of women in the

options for separating women by using different

general population of a maximum security prison,

facilities. Another challenge in effective responses

more than half (59 percent) of women reported

to women is the predominance of male-based

childhood sexual molestation and 77 percent

policies and programming in confinement

reported lifetime physical or sexual assaults by

settings. Screening and programming may not



When all forms of violence were

take into account vulnerabilities more common in

considered together, only 6 percent did not report

women and the lowered risk of severe or lethal

experiencing at least one physical or sexual attack

injury when they are aggressive.

during their lifetime.
Confined women are less likely to be in jail or

Growing evidence suggests that
incarcerated men and boys have been
victimized at high rates as well, even
though their trauma histories may not be

Lara Stemple and Ilan Meyer, “The Sexual
Victimization of Men in America: New Data
Challenge Old Assumptions,” American Journal of
Public Health, 104, no. 6: e19-e26.

prison for violent offenses than men and more
likely to suffer from mental health problems.22 In
2006, a Bureau of Justice Statistics survey
indicated that more than half (approximately 54
percent) of men in state prisons were being held
for violent offenses, compared with 37 percent of
women.23 Nearly a third of women in the nation’s
jails (approximately 31 percent) were reported to
have a serious psychiatric condition, compared to

For women, high scores on risk assessment tools
may lead to over-isolation in confinement settings
as facilities attempt to protect them from harm.
Women with past trauma histories, sexual abuse
by others, and abuse in intimate and family
relationships may be especially affected by the
constant observation and lack of privacy in
segregation units, especially when it involves
male observers.21 These conditions are
inappropriate as a correctional response to minor
violations and are especially out of scale when the
use of segregation is for the protection of the
woman, rather than for the protection of others.
Page 12

16 percent of men. Despite these differences,
management strategies, programming, and
disciplinary and security procedures for women
are typically based on models designed to address
male behaviors and the greater ability on the part
of most men to inflict serious and lethal harm.
Application of screening practices without regard
to gender differences is changing in some
jurisdictions. In Wyoming, women are screened
and housed according to the “Altus, Medius,
Brevis” model noted above and a corresponding
housing matrix. However, staff use a screening

tool specifically designed to assess a female

cutting them off from congregate activities and

population. WYDOC leaders—with the help of an


outside consultant—worked with administrators
and case managers at the women’s prison to

There are two main strategies to safely house

create an instrument responsive to and

youth who are sentenced to the criminal justice

appropriate for women in confinement.

system: house them in juvenile facilities until they
are at least 18, or provide specialized housing to

After implementing this screening tool and

keep younger inmates safe in adult facilities.

process, they found that 90 to 95 percent of the
women scored as “minimum custody-Brevis.”


Oregon and Indiana have enacted legislation and
agency policies to prohibit youthful inmates from

Based on that information, they redesigned the

being housed in adult facilities. For example,

housing matrix at the women’s prison to create

Multnomah County, Oregon, passed a resolution

more minimum-custody housing and tailored

that requires youth under the age of 18 to be

practices to be appropriate for the predominance

housed in juvenile detention, even if they are

of Brevis inmates.

tried as adults. In the rare cases where the sheriff
and corrections commissioner believe a young


Women’s crime and relational
patterns are different


Tools and processes should reflect
gender differences

person cannot be appropriately cared for in
juvenile detention, they are to find an alternative
placement in an adult facility. A transfer
agreement between the agencies facilitates these
moves when necessary.25
At the statewide level in Oregon, legislation

Youthful Inmates

passed in 1995 permits youth who are convicted

Because of the vulnerability of young people and

as adults to serve their time in juvenile facilities

the impacts of sexual abuse on their development

up to age 25. Indiana passed a bill in 2013 that

and long-term well-being, the PREA standards

enables judges to suspend an adult sentence of a

mandate that youth under the age of 18 confined

youthful inmate and order that the youth serve

in adult settings are not to have sight, sound, or

his or her time in a juvenile facility. When the

physical contact with adult inmates in housing

youth turns 18, the court reviews his or her

areas (115.14). In places outside of the housing

progress and determines what correctional setting

area, sight and sound separation or direct staff

is most appropriate going forward and whether

supervision is to be maintained at all times.

the youth can be discharged. Efforts like these
provide different options for moving youth into

The challenge for facilities—especially when there
are only a few juveniles—is to meet the standard
for separation without isolating these youth and
Page 13

juvenile settings.

This is a particularly effective strategy for

Importantly, the standards also specify that

jurisdictions that may only have one or two

youthful inmates may participate in congregate

youthful inmates in the adult system. Moving

and other activities with adult inmates if there is

youth to juvenile settings allows for better use of

direct supervision at all times. Direct supervision

scarce resources like classrooms, teachers, and

is usually understood to mean supervision by

security staff. It also meets the PREA standards

corrections officers where staff are in the same

regarding separation and allows for more

room or are in close enough proximity to hear

normalized congregate activities. While safety

conversations.27 This is an important condition

concerns may arise for other youth in the facility,

that offers options for youthful inmates to

Oregon found that the number of fights in their

participate in congregate activities if security

juvenile detention facilities actually decreased

supervision is provided.

after youthful inmates moved into those
When it is not possible to move youthful inmates


juvenile facilities until age 18

into juvenile settings, jurisdictions can create
dedicated housing units within adult facilities. At


programming when youthful

Women, youthful inmates are housed in a

inmates are housed in adult

separate wing of the facility that was formerly a
area, offices, and recreational space. Young

Create dedicated housing units
with age-appropriate

the North Carolina Correctional Institution for

medical unit. This wing has classrooms, a dining

House youthful inmates in


Provide supervised opportunities
for youthful inmates in adult

women are chaperoned when they need to travel

facilities to participate in

to other areas of the facility.

congregate activities

This approach is applicable when agencies have
an appropriate space to repurpose for youthful

In addition to the strategies in use in Oregon,

inmates and enough youthful inmates so this

Indiana, and North Carolina, there are a number

housing strategy does not itself result in isolation.

of other approaches that promote the sexual

As with other types of mission-specific housing,

safety of youthful inmates. A facility could meet

units dedicated to youthful inmates can focus on

the standard by housing youthful inmates in

age and developmentally appropriate group

single locked cells at night but allowing them

programming, including education, leadership

opportunities for congregate activities during the

training for youth, and other congregate

day with direct supervision. Alternatively, a group


of facilities could form a cooperative agreement to
place all youthful inmates at one facility in the
region that is best suited to serve this population.

Page 14

LGBTI Inmates


Research studies document that lesbian, gay,
bisexual, and transgender people are significantly
more vulnerable to sexual abuse than others in
confinement. For example, a Department of
Justice survey of sexual victimization in state
prisons in the United States found that 3.5
percent of heterosexual male inmates reported
being sexually victimized by an inmate.
In contrast, 39 percent of gay men and 34
percent of bisexual men reported being victimized
by another inmate.28 Lesbians and bisexual
women in prison reported twice the rate of sexual
abuse by staff members as did heterosexual
women (8 percent for lesbians and 7.5 percent for
bisexual women versus 3.7 percent for straight


Transgender people face an especially high risk in
confinement. A study of California prisons found
that transgender women housed in a men’s
facility were 13 times more likely to have been
sexually abused by other inmates than nontransgender people.30 Comparable research does
not exist for intersex people, but the PREA
standards include protections for them.
A number of agencies respond to these
vulnerabilities by placing people who identify as,
or who are perceived to be, lesbian, gay,

Asexual refers to a person who is not sexually
attracted to any sex and/or gender.
Bisexual refers to a man or woman who is
emotionally, romantically, and sexually attracted to
both men and women.
Gay refers to a man who is emotionally,
romantically, and sexually attracted to other men.
Gender Expression refers to how people express
their gender identity through their manner of dress,
speech, behavior, and/or other physical expressions
of themselves (masculine, feminine, androgynous,
Gender Identity refers to how people understand
their own gender (man, woman, other).
Gender Nonconforming means a person whose
appearance or manner does not conform to
traditional societal gender expectations.
Intersex means a person whose sexual or
reproductive anatomy or chromosomal pattern does
not seem to fit typical definitions of male or female.
Lesbian refers to a woman who is emotionally,
romantically, and sexually attracted to other women.
Sexual Orientation refers to how people identify
their emotional, sexual, or romantic attraction to,
other people and can be described as lesbian, gay,
bisexual, straight, asexual, or other.
Straight/Heterosexual refers to a person who is
emotionally, romantically, and sexually attracted to
another person who is of a different sex and/or

bisexual, transgender, intersex (LGBTI), or
gender nonconforming in segregation. This
housing severely limits opportunities for
programming, exercise, education, face-to-face
mental health interventions, and other activities
and services available to individuals in the general
population. Policies and practices that routinely
Page 15

Transgender means a person whose gender
identity (i.e., internal sense of feeling male or
female) is different from the person’s assigned sex
at birth. Most transgender people will identify as the
gender they transitioned to and not use the “trans-”

National Council on Crime and Delinquency, PREA Auditor
Training, September 2014.

place LGBTI people in segregated housing for

and gender nonconforming individuals who screen

protection thus penalize these individuals for their

at risk for sexual victimization include:

vulnerability and significantly worsen their


conditions of confinement.

Prioritizing and streamlining intake
processes to ensure they are interviewed
and placed in safe housing and safe

The PREA standards prohibit placing LGBTI

programming as soon as possible.33 Staff

inmates in dedicated units or wings based only on

should be trained to ask all inmates about

their sexual orientation or gender identity

sexual orientation, gender identity, and

(115.42(g)), unless such placement is in a

gender expression in a respectful manner

dedicated unit or wing established in connection

and to consider transgender and intersex

with a consent decree, legal settlement, or legal

inmates’ own views of their safety. They

judgment for the purpose of protection. The

should also review intake materials,

standards also specifically require that

including pre-sentence investigation

transgender and intersex inmates be given special

reports or medical records for indicators of

protections related to housing (115.42(c)),

LGBTI identity.34

program placement (115.42(d)), showering


(115.42(f)), and pat-down searches (115.15(f)).

Fostering an environment that encourages
people to feel comfortable discussing
sexual orientation, gender identity, and

Correctional facilities throughout the United

gender expression. In addition to training

States are beginning to implement alternatives to

staff, screenings should be conducted in

avoid isolating vulnerable LGBTI individuals in

private or quiet settings. Some

segregated housing and revising their policies and

jurisdictions have posted information about



The following approaches are

PREA in spaces where inmates are likely to

applicable to all types of confinement settings and

be detained before the classification

echo strategies discussed earlier in this guide.

processes occur to let them know that

Given the increased vulnerability of LGBTI and

everyone’s safety, regardless of sexual

gender nonconforming inmates to sexual

orientation or gender identity, is taken

victimization, agencies need to make sure their

seriously. Such materials should be posted

policies and practices are tailored to protect this

in the languages most common to the



Re-screening when necessary (115.41).

Targeted Intake and Screening

The PREA standards require that, within a

High-quality screening and classification practices

time period not to exceed 30 days from an

are essential first steps toward keeping those who

individual’s arrival at a facility, the facility

identify as LGBTI safe without relying on the use

will reassess risk of victimization or

of segregation. Strategies for protecting LGBTI

abusiveness based upon any additional,

Page 16

relevant information received by the
facility since the intake screening.

placement serious consideration. The PREA


standards mandate this for transgender
and intersex inmates (115.42). Through
facility practices and policies, staff can



implement this standard and review the

Conduct targeted screening as

degree to which they act on each inmate’s

soon as possible

stated preference.36

Consider transgender and


intersex inmates’ own views of

different facility if this would allow the

their safety

inmate to be safe without being housed in

Provide increased monitoring and

a segregated unit. This includes housing an

security as needed

Considering transferring an individual to a

inmate in a facility with inmates of a

Re-screen when necessary

different gender from the one assigned at
the inmate’s birth. For instance, a

Housing and Programming Placement

transgender woman might be considered

It is important to remember that many LGBTI and

most safe in a women’s facility.

gender nonconforming people function well in the
general prison population. Decisions about
placement in protective housing should be made
based on results of screening and evaluations of
promising alternatives by trained multidisciplinary teams, in combination with
conversations and follow-up with individuals who
screen high risk for sexual victimization.
Promising practices include:

Placing an LGBTI inmate in a single cell if

Of course, placement in special housing does
not guarantee safety, and conditions may
change over time. Even when all these steps
have been taken, housing and programming
placements for individuals identified as
vulnerable to sexual abuse or abusiveness
need to be routinely reviewed. The PREA

Using a case-by-case approach when

standards require that transgender and

deciding program and housing placement

intersex inmates’ placements are re-evaluated

for LGBTI individuals (115.42).

at least twice a year (115.42).

Transgender and intersex individuals, in
particular, have varying needs based on
gender identity, including whether they
have transitioned from one gender to
another with medical and/or surgical


Giving the perceptions of individuals about
their safety, housing, and facility

Page 17

transgender and intersex individuals be

Use of Transgender
Review Committees
Agencies across the United States—
including the District of Columbia
Department of Corrections, Denver
Sheriff Department, and Miami-Dade
Corrections and Rehabilitation
Department—have established
transgender review committees.a
These teams typically consist of
administrators; the PREA coordinator;
classification, medical, and mental
health staff; and often outside
advocates or community members.
Review committees are charged with
making classification, screening,
programming, and housing decisions
that take into account the unique
needs of transgender and intersex
individuals. These committees ask
transgender and intersex individuals
which gender they would prefer to be
housed with and what gender staff
they would prefer conduct pat-downs
and strip-searches. To be effective,
committee members should be trained
and well-versed in PREA and LGBTI

provided with an opportunity to shower
separately (115.42).

Using corrections officers to accompany
especially at-risk inmates when moving
through general population and less
secured areas of the facility.


Providing direct supervision to those at risk
for sexual victimization and abusiveness
when they congregate, such as in
education classes or self-help groups.


Keeping in mind that bullying, teasing, or
demeaning someone because of his or her
actual or perceived sexual orientation,
gender identity, or gender expression is
considered sexual harassment and is
prohibited by the PREA standards (115.6).

Commitment and Training
Committing to the safety and equitable treatment
of LBGTI individuals and instituting practices that


Jody Marksamer and Harper Jean Tobin,
Standing with LGBT Prisoners: An
Advocate’s Guide to Ending Abuse and
Combating Imprisonment (Washington, DC:
National Center for Transgender Equality,

promote their safety and treatment, should be an
agency-wide effort. Designing, implementing, and
reinforcing staff training that helps improve staff
understanding of definitions, terms, and risks for
LGBTI individuals in confinement settings are key

Monitoring and Safety
Although many LGBTI inmates and others who
screen at risk for sexual victimization can be
safely housed in general population or other
congregate housing units, some require additional

steps to achieving successful outcomes and
lasting culture change (115.31). The National
Institute of Corrections and the National PREA
Resource Center have developed several
resources that agencies might find helpful.38

monitoring and security. Promising practices


Allowing individuals identified at risk for

Innovations by an increasing number of

sexual victimization to shower separately.

jurisdictions now demonstrate that agencies can

The PREA standards mandate that

safely reduce their use of segregation—while
meeting the PREA standards, improving

Page 18

conditions of confinement, and resulting in
sometimes dramatic cost reductions—by removing
vulnerable, nonviolent individuals from
segregation and considering alternative strategies
as an initial response for those screened at risk of
sexual victimization or abusiveness.


For this

shift to be effective, however, safety for and
equality of inmates of all ages, gender identities,
and sexual orientations must move beyond policy
and become a part of the institutional culture. Key
components in culture change include:

Recognizing that protecting sexually
vulnerable inmates has a positive impact
on overall facility safety and can be
accomplished through the use of
alternatives to segregation;


Creating a zero-tolerance culture that
takes all forms of sexual abuse and sexual
harassment seriously;


Providing ongoing staff training on policies
and practices, and strategies to
communicate effectively and respectfully
with a diverse group of inmates; and


Educating volunteers, contractors, and
other individuals who might interact with
inmates about agency policies and their
responsibilities to uphold them.

Page 19

For more information on implementing
the PREA Standards for vulnerable
populations and promising practices for
screening, placement, and follow up,
see Screening for Risk of Sexual
Victimization and Abusiveness:
Guidelines for Administering Screening
Instruments and Using the Information
to Inform Housing Decisions. a

Allison Hastings, Peggy McGarry, and
Margaret diZerega. Screening for Risk of
Sexual Victimization and for Abusiveness:
Guidelines for Administering Screening
Instruments and Using the Information to
Inform Housing Decisions (New York: Vera
Institute of Justice, 2013).



For the full text of PREA standards, see

A variety of terms are used to describe
restricted housing: segregation, solitary
confinement, isolation, intensive management,
closed custody, restricted housing, and others.
Since the standards discuss “segregated housing,”
this guide will use segregation and segregated
housing. Regarding the use of segregation, since
the early 1980’s, most prison systems in the
United States have built specially designed
facilities, either stand-alone or connected to
larger prisons, that keep selected inmates in
lockdown status. See David Lovell, L. Clark
Johnson, and Kevin C. Cain, “Recidivism of
Supermax Prisoners in Washington State,” Crime
& Delinquency 53, no. 4 (2007) 633-656, at 633.

See Leena Kurki and Norval Morris, “The
Purposes, Practices, and Problems of Supermax
Prisons,” Crime and Justice 28 (2001): 385-424;
Jean Casella and James Ridgeway, “New York’s
Black Sites,” The Nation (July 30-August 6,
2012); Angela Browne, Alissa Cambier, and
Suzanne Agha, “Prisons Within Prisons: The Use
of Segregation in the United States,” Federal
Sentencing Reporter 24, no. 1 (2011): 46-49. For
a recent example, in South Carolina 16 inmates
were sentenced to more than a decade in
disciplinary segregation for “social networking” –
using Facebook – one inmate was sentenced to
more than 37 years in disciplinary segregation.
Dave Maas, “Hundreds of South Carolina Inmates
Sent to Solitary Confinement Over Facebook,”
Electronic Frontier Foundation, February 12,

David Lovell, “Patterns of Disturbed Behavior in
a Supermax Population,” Criminal Justice and
Behavior 35, no. 8 (2008): 985-1004.

Craig Haney, “Mental Health Issues in LongTerm Solitary and ‘Supermax’ Confinement,”
Crime & Delinquency 49, no. 1 (2003): 124-156,
at 135.

Page 20

See Caroline Isaacs and Matthew Lowen, Buried
Alive: Solitary Confinement in Arizona’s Prisons
and Jails (Arizona: American Friends Service
Committee: 2007), 10-11; Craig Haney, “Mental
Health Issues in Long-Term Solitary and
‘Supermax’ Confinement,” Crime & Delinquency
49, no 1 (2003): 124-156, at 126; Eric Lanes,
“The Association of Administrative Segregation
Placement and Other Risk Factors with the SelfInjury-Free Time of Male Prisoners,” Journal of
Offender Rehabilitation 48 (2009): 529 – 546, at
532; Fred Cohen, “Isolation in Penal Settings: The
Isolation-Restraint Paradigm,” Washington
University Journal of Law & Policy, 22 (2006):
295-324, at 297-299.

David Lovell, 2008.


Homer Venters et al., “Solitary Confinement and
Risk of Self-Harm Among Jail Inmates,” American
Journal of Public Health 104, no. 3 (2014) 442447; Eric Charles Lanes, “Are the ‘Worst of the
Worst’ Self-Injurious Prisoners More Likely to End
Up in Long-Term Maximum-Security
Administrative Segregation” International Journal
of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology
55, no 7 (2011): 1034-1050; Kevin Johnson,
“Inmate Suicides Linked to Solitary,” USA Today,
December 27, 2006; American Civil Liberties
Union of Texas, Texas Civil Rights ProjectHouston, A Solitary Failure: The Waste, Cost and
Harm of Solitary Confinement in Texas (Houston:
ACLU, 2015), 10. For an examination of suicides
from 1993-2003, see Bruce Way, et al, “Inmate
Suicide and Time Spent in Special Disciplinary
Housing in New York State Prison,” Psychiatric
Services 58, no 4 (2007).

Kristine Levan Miller, “The Darkest Figure of
Crime: Perceptions of Reasons for Male Inmates
to Not Report Sexual Assault,” Justice Quarterly
27, no. 5 (2010), 692-712.

Jeff Mitchell and Christopher Varley, “Isolation
and Restraint in Juvenile Correctional Facilities,”
Journal of the American Academy of Child and
Adolescent Psychiatry 29, no. 2 (1990): 251-255.
For additional information on young people in
segregated housing see American Civil Liberties
Union and Human Rights Watch, Growing Up
Locked Down: Youth in Solitary Confinement in
Jails and Prisons Across the United States (New
York: ACLU & HRW, 2012)


Caelan Kuban, Oppositional Defiant Disorder
and Trauma (The National Institute for Trauma
and Loss in Children, 2011). Michael D. Cohen,
Larry Burd, and Marty Beyer, “Health Services for
Youth in Juvenile Justice Programs,” Clinical
Practice in Correctional Medicine (Second Edition),
edited by Michael Puisis (Philadelphia, PA:
Elsevier, Inc., 2006).

Daniel P. Mears, “Supermax Prisons: The Policy
and the Evidence,” Criminology & Public Policy 12,
no. 4 (2013): 681-719; and Daniel P. Mears and
Jamie Watson, “Towards a Fair and Balanced
Assessment of Supermax Prisons,” Justice
Quarterly 23, no. 2 (2006): 232-270.

Angela Browne, Alissa Cambier, and Suzanne
Agha, 2011.

To view the tools used in Wyoming and learn
more about the WYDOC’s screening and housing
procedures, see National PREA Resource Center,
“Implementing the Screening Standards,”

Ericka Sage, interview by author, November 28,
2014; for more information on Oregon’s PREA
efforts, see National PREA Resource Center,
“PREA Readiness: The Oregon Department of

Washington State Department of Corrections
(WADOC), Skill Building Unit – Cedar Hall, WCC
for Offenders with Cognitive Disabilities (Olympia,

Bernie Warner and Dan Pacholke, interview by
author, Washington, DC, August 6, 2014.

WADOC, Skill Building Unit – Cedar Hall, WCC
for Offenders with Cognitive Disabilities.

Barbara Owen et al., Gendered Violence and
Safety: Improving Security in Women’s Facilities

Page 21

(Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice,
2008); and Angela Browne, Brenda Miller, and
Eugene Maguin, “Prevalence and Severity of
Lifetime Physical and Sexual Victimization Among
Incarcerated Women,” International Journal of
Law and Psychiatry 22, no. 3-4 (1999) 301-322.

Angela Browne, Brenda Miller, and Eugene
Maguin, 1999.

American Civil Liberties Union, Worse than
Second Class: Solitary Confinement of Women in
the United States (New York: ACLU, 2014).

In a survey from the mid-2000s, an estimated
73 percent of women compared to 55 percent of
men in state prisons were diagnosed with mental
health problems. In federal prisons, the rate was
61 percent of women compared to 44 percent of
men. See Doris J. James and Lauren E. Glaze,
Mental Health Problems of Prison and Jail Inmates
(Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice,
Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2006); E. Ann Carson
and William J. Sabol, Prisoners in 2011
(Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice,
Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2012); and Dora M.
Dumont et al., “Public Health and The Epidemic of
Incarceration,” Annual Review of Public Health 33
(2012), 325-339.

Doris J. James and Lauren E. Glaze, Mental
Health Problems of Prison and Jail Inmates (U.S.
Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics
Special Report, 2006).

To view the tools used in Wyoming and learn
more about the WYDOC’s screening and housing
procedures, see National PREA Resource Center,
“Implementing the Screening Standards,”

For more detail on Oregon’s policies including
links to the county resolution and transfer
agreement, see National PREA Resource Center,
“Youthful Inmate Implementation,”



For more detail, see the table titled “Fights and
Assaults since the 2008 Multnomah County

Creating a Culture of Safety,”; and National
PREA Resource Center, “Committing to Safety and
Respect for LGBTI Youth and Adults in
Correctional Settings: Lessons from the Field,”


Department of Justice (DOJ), National
Standards to Prevent, Detect, and Respond to
Prison Rape; Final Rule (Washington, DC: DOJ,

Allen J. Beck and Candace Johnson, Sexual
Victimization Reported by Former State Prisoners,
2008 (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of
Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2012).

Allen J. Beck and Candace Johnson, 2012.


Valerie Jenness et al., Violence in California
Correctional Faculties: An Empirical Examination
of Sexual Assault (Irvine, CA: University of
California Irvine, Center for Evidence-Based
Corrections, 2007).

National Council on Crime and Delinquency,
PREA Auditor Training, September 2014.

For a review of the law, PREA standards, and a
guide to policies and procedures that take into
account the needs of LGBTI individuals for all
types of custodial settings, see Morris Thigpen et
al., Policy Review and Development Guide:
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex
Persons in Custodial Settings (Washington, DC:
National Institute of Corrections, 2013).

National Institute of Corrections (NIC), “LGBTI
Populations: Their Safety, Your Responsibility,”; National Institute
of Corrections (NIC), “LGBTI Populations: Intake–
Creating a Culture of Safety,”; and National
PREA Resource Center, “Committing to Safety and
Respect for LGBTI Youth and Adults in
Correctional Settings: Lessons from the Field,”

National Institute of Corrections (NIC), “LGBTI
Populations: Their Safety, Your Responsibility,”; National Institute
of Corrections (NIC), “LGBTI Populations: Intake–

Page 22


The PREA standard 115.41 provides the
following guidance on re-screening: Within a set
time period, not to exceed 30 days from the
inmate’s arrival at the facility, the facility will
reassess the inmate’s risk of victimization or
abusiveness based upon any additional, relevant
information received by the facility since the
intake screening (f). An inmate’s risk level shall
be reassessed when warranted due to a referral,
request, incident of sexual abuse, or receipt of
additional information that bears on the inmate’s
risk of sexual victimization or abusiveness (g).

For more information on specific resources, see
National PREA Resource Center, “Committing to
Safety and Respect for LGBTI Youth and Adults in
Confinement: Lessons from Two Agencies,”

Jody Marksamer and Harper Jean Tobin,
Standing with LGBT Prisoners: An Advocate’s
Guide to Ending Abuse and Combating
Imprisonment (Washington, DC: National Center
for Transgender Equality, 2013).

“LGBTI Populations: Their Safety, Your
Responsibility”; “LGBTI Populations: Intake–
Creating a Culture of Safety”; Communicating
Effectively and Professionally with LGBTI
Offenders (online course),;
and “Committing to Safety and Respect for LGBTI
Youth and Adults in Correctional Settings: Lessons
from the Field,”

For more information on cost reductions
associated with reducing the use of segregation,
see Current Thinking Blog, “Mississippi DOC's
Emmitt Sparkman on Reducing the Use of
Segregation in Prisons,” October 31, 2011,



Page 23