People often ask what we do at OYA to keep youth safe from abuse. Here’s an overview of things we do to prevent and respond to allegations of sexual abuse.
- OYA has a zero-tolerance policy on sexual abuse and sexual harassment.
- We educate youth regularly on the importance of reporting and how to report. All youth receive a safety handbook that they review with staff.
- If an incident occurs, youth can make confidential reports to living unit staff, mental health workers, or medical personnel. They can call our dedicated phone line for reporting abuse. Youth can submit grievances or write to the governor’s office. We also post phone numbers for community-based sexual assault advocacy groups in all our facilities.
- Our Professional Standards Office investigates every report of abuse and reports them to law enforcement, who may conduct their own investigation.
- We have staff dedicated to ensuring our compliance with the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). That means complying with a comprehensive set of national standards designed to keep youth safe in secure facilities. Federal auditors regularly visit and evaluate our facilities.
- We have 24/7 camera coverage throughout our facilities in areas we have identified where youth regularly have access. We’ve added or upgraded more than 1,000 cameras across the system in the past five years.
- 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.
This isn’t a complete list, but it gives a sense of the scale of our efforts, and how serious we are about keeping youth safe in our facilities.