The Prison Rape Elimination Act and NYS Prisons By Cheryl L. Kates-Benman, Co-President CURE-NY

Directive 4028 A governs the NYS DOCCS policy on sexual abuse prevention and intervention regarding staff-on-inmate and was enacted to comply with federal regulations regarding the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 ( see 42 USC 15601). This legislation is intended to safe-guard the victims of illegal behavior of correctional employees and create a safe atmosphere for incarcerated people to report instances of sexual abuse. These protections are not being enforced by NYS correctional officials and the purpose and underlying protections intended for inmates reporting correctional staff abuse are NOT being afforded.
This is a system-wide problem which severely jeopardizes the safety of all employees of the Department and inmates confined within the NYS prison system. In fact, the failure to comply with the Department’s directive makes a mockery of the whole intent of PREA and creates an unsafe atmosphere for those who try to stand up and report illegal behavior of correctional employees.
The failure of the Department to protect these individuals makes them a walking target for further abuse and retaliation by the very staff who abused them. This is a violation of national and state constitutional provisions denying the individual due process and instituting a system of cruel and unusual punishment for people confined within our state.
Given the current atmosphere in NYS, where we currently have several deaths by suicide and or now a pending claim of murder by correctional officers this is an issue which cannot continue to be ignored by state prison officials. The continuation of the failure to uphold these protections to people incarcerated in our prisons should be intolerable.
The state of NY cannot continue to allow this negligence and unprofessional behavior which amounts to criminal behavior to continue. The administration who are currently turning the other cheek deserve to also be held accountable as supervisors who allowed this behavior to continue inside NYS prisons once they were notified of the occurrences.
NYS Penal Law 130.05 details no one under the custody of the state Department of Corrections possesses the ability to consent to sexual activity. So even if an incarcerated person willingly engages in sexual behavior this is still illegal under the Penal Law and meets the definition of rape. The mockery of these rules is ever so apparent when we saw recent news reports of the state employee accused of assisting the inmates escape at Clinton Correctional Facility claiming she was forced to engage in sexual behavior by the inmates. The law details any employee who engages in a sexual relationship is guilty of a sex offense. When is the state going to be held accountable? This is the question CURE NY asks. When do the laws of this country take on any meaning? Right now they are just words on a piece of paper blowing in the wind.

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