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WCASA is Wisconsin's only state-wide coalition dedicated to ending sexual violence.

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        Our Mission

        The Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault creates the social change necessary to end sexual violence. 

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        Prison rape elimination act (PREA)


        In 2003, Congress passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), the nation’s first-ever law addressing sexual abuse in detention facilities. In 2012, the Department of Justice published national standards to address the issue of sexual abuse and harassment in confinement.

        The Bureau of Justice Statistics determined that over 7% of prisoners have been sexually abused during their most recent incarceration. Approximately half of perpetrators are staff members, and most survivors experience repeat victimization during their incarceration.

        The PREA standards have three clear goals: 

        to preventdetect and respond to sexual abuse in confinement settings. The standards address inmate-on-inmate as well as staff-on-inmate sexual abuse and harassment. The standards meet the goals by adopting a zero-tolerance policy within institutions, identifying facility requirements for hiring and training, and developing procedures for responding to reported abuse. Inmates are provided education about the dynamics of sexual abuse in confinement and what their rights are if victimized. The standards identify multiple ways an inmate, community member or staff can report suspected abuse. Additionally, the standards address allowing outside advocacy and support for prison rape survivors.

        The PREA standards not only help ensure the safety and security of inmates, staff, and the institution, but also provide support for victims, most of whom are ultimately returned to society. Victims of sexual assault in confinement suffer the same trauma as individuals assaulted in the community, but due to the unique dynamics of a prison/jail setting, they historically have not had the same access to reporting, resources and support. The Prison Rape Elimination Act helps improve inmate access to outside confidential resources.


        Taking an Intersectional Approach



        When addressing the problem of prison sexual assault, it is important to be aware of the extreme racial disparity within our criminal justice system. Mass incarceration of people of color is a national problem, and it is particularly stark in Wisconsin. When providing advocacy in confinement, it is vital to understand this history of oppression, check our own implicit biases about people of color and prison, and be prepared to provide advocacy to the whole survivor. 

        The school-to-prison pipeline is one factor contributing to mass incarceration. It is a disturbing national trend wherein children are funneled out of public schools and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems. Many of these children have learning disabilities or histories of poverty, abuse, or neglect, and would benefit from additional educational and counseling services. Instead, they are isolated, punished, and pushed out.aware of the extreme racial disparity within our criminal justice system. Mass incarceration of people of color is a national problem, and it is particularly stark in Wisconsin. When providing advocacy in confinement, it is vital to understand this history of oppression, check our own implicit biases about people of color and prison, and be prepared to provide advocacy to the whole survivor.

        The sexual abuse-to-prison pipeline is a related trend focusing on ways in which we criminalize girls, especially girls of color. This includes when common responses to trauma – often by sexual abuse victims – are criminalized within the school system, causing children to enter the juvenile and criminal justice systems.

        “Zero-tolerance” policies criminalize minor infractions of school rules, while cops in schools lead to students being criminalized for behavior that should be handled inside the school. Students of color are especially vulnerable to push-out trends and the discriminatory application of discipline.


        PREA Resources

        Directly below, we have organized some resources into a user-friendly progression, especially for advocates who are new to PREA. Other national resources are listed at the bottom of this page.


        Starter Resources


        Sexual Violence in Confinement Infographic 

        PREA Advocacy Manual: Tools for Advocates Working with Incarcerated Victims of Sexual Violence in Wisconsin (2017)
        This is a comprehensive, Wisconsin-specific, 32-page manual developed by WCASA in partnership with DOC. The first half is intended to provide information on the background, prevalence, and dynamics of sexual abuse and sexual harassment (including abuse and harassment perpetrated by a staff member) in correctional institutions, as well as incarcerated victim responses. The second half of this tool is designed to provide best practice guidelines for advocates who are providing services to incarcerated victims of sexual violence within correctional institutions. While many of the tools, guidelines, and suggestions depict working with prison rape survivors, these same or similar methods are valuable when working with survivors of sexual assault in all forms of detention.

        Webinar: Prison Rape Elimination Act: Advocacy in Confinement (2016)
        As in the community, advocacy in confinement is central to the healing process. Join us to learn about the dynamics of sexual abuse, the role of advocacy and the ways in which we can work together to support survivors in confinement.

        Webpage: WI Department of Corrections - PREA Unit
        To contact the WI DOC PREA office, learn more about PREA standards, view videos on sexual abuse created for inmates, review WI data and PREA audit results, or report sexual abuse/harassment.

        Primer: The School to Prison Pipeline (2013)
        This two page primer from Teaching Tolerance explains the basics about the School to Prison Pipeline and how it disproportionately impacts students of color.

        News Story: Sexual Abuse to Prison Pipeline (2015)
        This 10-minute news segment covers the basics of the Sexual Abuse to Prison Pipeline, how trauma can lead to incarceration, and how this pipeline disproportionately impacts girls of color.


        Intermediate & Advanced Resources

        Webinar: Prison Rape Elimination Act: Advocacy in Confinement Part 2 (2018)
        Presented by Ian Henderson, Director of Legal & Systems Services; Alma Mann, Programs Coordinator; and Leigha Weber, PREA Director at DOC. In November 2017, WCASA and the Department of Corrections (DOC) provided a series of regional training opportunities which featured both the recently revised PREA Advocacy Manual and a screening of the new inmate rights video which was developed by WCASA and DOC.

        To ensure that this training will be available to all advocates, WCASA and DOC decided to turn the regional training into a webinar. For advocates who attended the November trainings, this webinar will be duplicative. However, advocates who were not able to attend (or for those who would like to review the content covered in the trainings) this webinar allows advocates to access the training at their convenience. Additionally, SASPs could use the webinar as an opportunity to view the webinar as a staff training opportunity. The regional trainings included an interactive activity at the end of the training – to preserve this activity in webinar format we are also providing brief instructions and materials to facilitate this activity with staff.

        Webinar participants will: 

        • Learn best practices for serving incarcerated survivors
        • View the inmate rights video
        • Discuss challenging scenarios advocates may encounter while providing services to incarcerated survivors

        Article: Wisconsin’s Mass & Disparate Incarceration (2018)
        This article is the first in a series that explores the realities and costs of mass and disparate incarceration for Wisconsin residents and communities and how Wisconsin might change course.

        Webinar: Disciplined Too Young and Too Often: The School to Prison Pipeline (2015)
        In this webinar presented by Nubia Pena of the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault, you will learn the details of the School to Prison Pipeline and its direct connection to sexual assault.

        Report: The Sexual Abuse to Prison Pipeline (2015)
        This in-depth, 48-page report dives deep into the Sexual Abuse to Prison Pipeline, including data and discussion of girls’ paths into incarceration, the overcriminalization of girls of color, and the other systems that contribute to the pipeline.

        Webinar: Addressing Implicit Bias to Better Serve Incarcerated People
        Presented by Judgement Under the Radar and Sexual Assault Services of Lutheran Social Services in Racine County. What is implicit bias, and why is it of particular importance when serving incarcerated people? Judgement Under the Radar begins this discussion, including an explanation of the criminal justice system, traumas that may be experienced as a part of that system, and strategies to reduce bias when serving incarcerated victims. Sexual Assault Services of LSS then presents about their work with incarcerated individuals, including initial anxieties, joys of this work, and lessons learned.


        National Resources

        PREA Resource Center: Provides assistance to those responsible for state and local adult prisons and jails, juvenile facilities, community corrections, lockups, tribal organizations, and inmates and their families in their efforts to eliminate sexual abuse in confinement.

        Just Detention International: A health and human rights organization that seeks to end sexual abuse in all forms of detention

        Hope Behind Bars: An Advocates Guide to Helping Survivors of Sexual Abuse in Detention

        Bureau of Justice Statistics: Department of Justice: An agency that collects, analyzes, publishes, and disseminates information on crime, criminal offenders, victims of crime, and the operation of justice systems at all levels of government. These data are critical to federal, state, and local policymakers in combating crime and ensuring that justice is both efficient and evenhanded.

        The Sentencing Project: Organization working for a fair and effective criminal justice system. Site includes research publications, media campaigns, and strategic advocacy for policy reform.

        Interactive Map: State-by-State Data

        Rights4Girls: A human rights organization working to end gender-based violence in the U.S.

        Vera Institute of Justice: Organization working to build and improve justice systems that ensure fairness, promote safety, and strengthen communities.

        Report: Divided Justice: Trends in Black and White Jail Incarceration, 1990-2013