FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 10, 2019
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IN MAJOR MILESTONE DOC ACHIEVES PREA COMPLIANCE
Rose M. Singer Center on Rikers Island Passes PREA Audit, Exceeds National Standards in Several Areas
Rikers Island, NY—A New York City Department of Correction detention facility has achieved compliance with the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) for the first time ever, marking an important milestone in the agency’s effort to eliminate sexual abuse for those in custody. The Rose M. Singer Center (RMSC) on Rikers Island, which houses female as well as transgender and non-binary identifying individuals in custody, is now officially PREA-certified, following an intensive audit by an independent Department of Justice PREA auditor.
“RMSC’s successful audit is a direct reflection of the commitment the Department of Correction has made to meaningful and sustained sexual safety in all of our jails,” said DOC Commissioner Cynthia Brann. “As Commissioner, the safety and security of those in the Department’s custody, and of those who work in Department facilities, are my primary concern and I take sexual safety standards personally and seriously. I am extremely proud of the work of my staff, both in regards to passing this audit and in their every day commitment to sexual safety within our facilities.”
“It’s hard to overstate the level of dedication the staff at Rosie’s has shown to bring us to this important milestone,” said Assistant Commissioner Faye Yelardy, who has been overseeing DOC’s PREA compliance efforts since 2014. “Becoming PREA-compliant involves a high level of awareness and daily commitment. I’d like to thank and congratulate them and our PREA Compliance Unit on this historic achievement. I have full confidence that we will be seeing similar results at other DOC facilities in the near future.”
Years of hard work and preparation went into the audit. Starting in 2012, DOC sought and received grants from the Department of Justice to bring the Department into compliance with the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). With those grants, in 2014 DOC contracted with the Moss Group, the pre-eminent national authority on PREA compliance, to assess jail practices. Moss delivered its recommendations last year.
The on-site audit took place in May of this year. In an 81-page report, the PREA auditor noted that RMSC met all PREA standards:
“Inmates interviewed responded that NYCDOC personnel treated them with respect,” the auditor reported. “Inmates were well-versed in NYCDOC’s reporting mechanisms and efforts to protect them from sexual abuse and harassment. NYCDOC has numerous mechanisms in place for inmates, their families, and the general public to report allegations and receive information in regard to PREA and receive assistance for underlying issues of sexual victimization or predatory behaviors. This auditor was allowed to speak freely with all offenders and staff during my visit and was treated in a very hospitable fashion. Facility leadership was responsive and knowledgeable. Line staff took great pride in their areas of responsibility and were all well trained in regard to the requirements of PREA.”
The auditor also singled out areas where DOC exceeded the standards, including outreach to detainees with disabilities, detainee education, detainee reporting, and criminal and administrative agency investigations.
“I was very impressed with the knowledge and thoroughness of the NYCDOC investigative unit, noted the auditor. “ The assigned investigators showed a thorough knowledge of investigatory requirements and a review of completed investigations showed the same thoroughness. I was also very impressed with the RMSC Warden who took an active role in preparing the facility to be audited. All personnel in general seemed to take great pride in the facility and seemed invested in the process. All RMSC personnel gave it their all.”
“The only way to have a successful audit is to show real commitment to addressing issues of sexual safety. These audit results exemplify the Department’s ongoing culture change and show what can be accomplished when you have staff buy-in and commitment to meeting PREA standards,” said DOC Senior Correction Institution Administrator Prechelle Shannon, who helped spearhead the audit effort. “We will continue to work going forward to ensure that all of our facilities are PREA compliant.”
About the New York City Department of Correction
The New York City Department of Correction (DOC) provides for the care, custody, and control of persons accused of crimes or convicted and sentenced to one year or less of jail time. The Department manages 11 inmate facilities, eight of which are located on Rikers Island. In addition, the Department operates two hospital Prison Wards (Bellevue and Elmhurst hospitals) and court holding facilities in each borough. During Fiscal Year 2019, the Department handled over 39,000 admissions and managed an average daily inmate population of approximately 7,900 individuals. Our dedicated workforce of both uniformed and non-uniformed staff members represent the city’s BOLDEST.