Preventing and Responding to Sexual Abuse

Oregon Youth Authority takes numerous actions to try to prevent and respond to sexual abuse in our facilities.

Keeping youth safe in OYA custody is our number-one priority. Because of that, our agency takes numerous actions to try to prevent and respond to sexual abuse in our facilities.

Below is an overview of some of the actions we take to keep youth safe and the data we collect around sexual abuse.

Zero Tolerance for Sexual Abuse

  • OYA has a zero-tolerance policy for sexual abuse and sexual harassment.
  • All OYA staff are mandatory reporters for youth abuse and child abuse.
  • The agency reports all allegations of sexual abuse to the Oregon State Police. OYA’s Professional Standards Office (PSO) also investigates every allegation.
  • OYA regularly trains youth on the importance of reporting abuse, and how to report incidents confidentially.
  • OYA maintains a dedicated phone line for reporting abuse. The number is posted and shared widely inside all our facilities via posters and safety guides in English and Spanish.
  • Every OYA facility has a Sexual Assault Resource and Response Team (SARRT) tasked with preventing, detecting, and responding to youth sexual abuse allegations and incidents.
  • OYA facilities have 24/7 video surveillance in places the agency has identified as being regularly accessible to youth, except the bathrooms.

Compliance with Federal Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA)

  • External federal certified PREA auditors conduct audits of each facility every three years to ensure that they comply with a comprehensive set of national standards designed to keep youth safe. Eight out of OYA’s nine facilities are currently 100% compliant, including Oak Creek and Rogue Valley.*
  • A full-time PREA coordinator oversees OYA’s work to comply with PREA across all nine OYA facilities. Each facility also has an on-site PREA compliance manager.
  • The PREA coordinator checks in monthly with the local compliance managers to review and follow up on any issues, to make sure documentation is completed, and to discuss how OYA can better meet and exceed the PREA standards.
  • OYA compiles annual reports on our work to comply with PREA, including the number of substantiated sexual abuse reports, if any, from all our facilities.

Surveying through Performance-Based Standards (PbS)

  • OYA surveys youth twice a year as part of PbS, a research-based national improvement model that holds juvenile justice agencies and providers to the highest standards for operations, programs, and services. The same survey is administered at 46 juvenile justice agencies in 36 states.
  • On the survey, youth are asked about their perception of safety and whether they have experienced sexual victimization. They provide their answers anonymously via electronic devices.
  • Oak Creek: For the past five years, PbS results place Oak Creek significantly below the 7.1% national rate of sexual victimization reported in the National Survey of Youth in Custody. Almost all results were below 5%. Over the same time period, youth also reported they felt increasingly safe.
  • Rogue Valley: For the past five years, except for one reporting period in 2017, PbS results place Rogue Valley below the 7.1% national rate from the federal report.

Recent Actions to Improve Safety

In the past five years, OYA has taken numerous actions at all our facilities to improve safety relating to sexual abuse and sexual harassment. Among other actions, OYA has:

  • added or upgraded more than 1,000 security cameras at our facilities statewide, and replaced our video management system used to access, view, and record security video;
  • provided additional sexual abuse prevention training to staff and youth;
  • improved our process for screening youth who might be sexually vulnerable or sexually aggressive;
  • updated our process for monitoring and documenting potential retaliation to ensure we properly protect youth who report sexual abuse;
  • provided additional staff training to improve their supervision of youth; and
  • provided additional staff training on youths’ right to access victim advocates.

*MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility was found in compliance on 42 out of 43 standards. We are still striving to achieve a staffing ratio of 1 staff to 16 youth across our system.

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