My Experience with the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA)

In the next month or so I will begin going into D.C. Jail to talk to the women who are incarcerated there about reentry resources and basic life skills to assist with their reintegration into society. The approval process to get into D.C. Jail has been arduous. I had to give them everything except a blood sample. I wouldn’t be surprised if they accessed my prison records to pull my DNA. Before I was released from Federal Prison in 2011 I gave up a sample of my DNA as a mandatory condition of my release. All prisoners have to give up their DNA these days.

When I finally completed all of the paperwork and the necessary steps to get processed I was scheduled to attend the 16-hour Pre-Service Training that was conducted at the Department of Corrections Training Academy. I must say it was informative and enlightening. We learned about suicide prevention strategies, how to maintain professionalism while working with inmates, and discussed at length the details of (PREA) Prison Rape Elimination Act. We watched several videos. One of the videos entitled, “Always a Boy” was about how men who are unable to survive alone in prison end up with a pimp, or being owned by other men. They are passed around from partner to partner and raped repeatedly until they begin to adapt to gay lifestyles. Another film was about a young man who was 17 years old when he became incarcerated. He was repeatedly raped and beaten and asked to be placed in protective custody, but it was to no avail. He committed suicide.

Video: How the Prison Rape Elimination Act strives for zero tolerance

The instructors told us countless stories about inmate manipulation of staff and how to avoid being coerced into giving inmates contraband (Prohibited Items). Everything is contraband if it is not issued by the prison staff, or sold on commissary. We were told repeatedly that, “Sex between an inmate and a staff member is never consensual.” Interestingly, I didn’t hear much about how staff can manipulate inmates. Maybe this is because most of the information shared was based on experiences in male facilities. I know for a fact that many male staff members have used, abused women and manipulated them into giving them sexual favors for trinkets such as: panties, and bubble gum. Fortunately, these cases are also covered under PREA and recently several male guards have been indicted and incarcerated for “rape,” or having sex with a female inmate in prison.

I often wonder about the women who were exposed as “The one who got Officer such and such locked up”. Where are they now? I have heard of some women receiving a reduction in their sentence for exchanging information about officers. Others have gone on to complete their sentences because they refused to tell. They thought they were in love. Although the facilitators spoke at length about the men who slept with countless guards and even fathered children with them it was as if the stories of these women were swept under the rug.

I was incarcerated in FCI Danbury and I remember when Officer Rudkin, was having sex with a female inmate. He was eventually arrested, and pled guilty to the charges. I was there when Officer Vasquez had multiple sex partners and one day vanished. He too was incarcerated. I never hear anybody talk about these stories…. I wonder why!!! I guess I should have asked the facilitator. Probably not.



About Lashonia Etheridge-Bey

Lashonia Etheridge-Bey is a Public Speaker who can candidly and articulately speak to the consequences of youth violence, the effects of incarceration and the challenges of reentry into society. Read Lashonia's Full BIO Here 

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