The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA)

The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) was signed into Federal law in 2003 by President George W. Bush. It was created to address the problem of sexual misconduct in all confinement facilities. In 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice released national PREA standards to prevent, detect, and respond to sexual abuse and sexual harassment in confinement facilities.

The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office and Corrections Division is responsible for protecting the rights of inmates placed into the custody of the Sheriff. The facility has established a zero-tolerance policy for all forms of sexual abuse and sexual harassment and acts to prevent, detect, and respond to all allegations and incidents of sexual misconduct. All Putnam County Sheriff’s Office employees, volunteers, and contractors receive training on their duties and responsibilities under the Department’s zero-tolerance policy and are informed that they are required to immediately report any incident or allegation of sexual abuse and sexual harassment. The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office and Corrections Division investigates all allegations of offender–on–offender and staff–on–offender sexual misconduct. You can report sexual misconduct in multiple ways:

Contact the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office at 845-225-4300.
Contact the Putnam County Sheriff’s Corrections Division at 845-225-5255.
Contact the Putnam County Rape Crisis Center at 845-628-2166.
NYS Hotline number toll-free, at 1-800-942-6906

Information for family and friends of those in the custody of the Sheriff

The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office takes every report of sexual misconduct seriously, and all allegations will be referred for investigation. All staff, volunteers, and contractors receive training in the awareness and reporting of sexual misconduct. All victims will be provided with medical and mental health care. Staff/inmate sexual misconduct is against the law in New York.

The Putnam County Corrections Division Recognizes the Right of Offenders to Be Free From Sexual Misconduct

What is PREA?

The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) is a federal law that went into effect in September of 2003 and prohibits sexual misconduct in correctional settings such as prisons, jails, lockups, juvenile facilities and Immigration Services/ICE detention facilities. Sexual misconduct under this law includes:

  • Offender-on-offender sexual assault and abuse
  • Staff-on-offender sexual misconduct (sexual/inappropriate relationships with offenders)
  • Offender-on-offender and staff-on-offender sexual harassment

The Putnam County Corrections Division has zero tolerance for sexual misconduct of any kind and will impose discipline for such misconduct, up to and including termination and criminal prosecution for staff as well as discipline for offenders who victimize other offenders. Incidents of sexual misconduct will also be referred to law enforcement when applicable. The PUTNAM COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE policies prohibiting sexual misconduct apply to all offenders, employees, contractors, and volunteers

About Incarcerated Individual's Rights:

Incarcerated individuals have the right to be safe from sexual abuse. No one has the right to pressure an inmate to engage in sexual acts. No incarcerated individual has to tolerate sexual abuse or pressure to engage in unwanted sexual behaviors. If an incarcerated individual is being pressured, threatened or extorted for sex, they are advised to report this to staff. Incarcerated individuals should also report any retaliation they believe occurred due to reporting an incident of sexual abuse or participating in an investigation of an allegation of sexual abuse.

What Incarcerated Individuals are advised to do if they are assaulted?

If an incarcerated individual becomes a victim of sexual abuse, they should report it immediately to staff who will offer immediate protection from the abuser and will refer them to medical examination and clinical assessment. Assistance will be provided regardless of whether or not they name the responsible incarcerated individuals or staff members however, specific information may make it easier for staff to help.

How would I know if my family member/ friend is being threatened/ victimized?

A victim may:

  • Have trouble sleeping
  • Suffer a loss of appetite
  • Experience stomachaches and/or headaches
  • Display anger or rage
  • Seem unusually anxious
  • Express concern about their safety
  • Seem unusually detached or withdrawn
  • Have episodes of crying or shaking
  • Not care about their personal hygiene

Incarcerated Individual Reporting:

How does an incarcerated individual report an incident of Sexual Abuse? It is important that they begin by telling a staff member. They can tell any corrections security staff member, medical staff member, mental health worker, counselor, chaplain or any other staff member. Staff are instructed to keep the reported information confidential and only discuss it with the appropriate officials on a need-to-know basis. If an incarcerated individual chooses to first report the abuse or threats in writing, they many write to the shift supervisor, corrections counselor, chaplain, jail administrator, mental health worker or any other staff member. However, any delay in reporting an incident will make investigating the incident far more difficult.

Visitor Reporting:

An incarcerated individual may choose to report the abuse to any person of their choosing, including those who are not staff of the Putnam County Correctional Facility. This may mean they reported it to you. If you are told by anyone, including a third party, that an act of sexual abuse may have occurred in this facility, you MUST report this to the appropriate authority. This can be done by immediately advising any staff member. This will ensure immediate interaction by staff to stop the action and begin the necessary investigation. You may also report this to the Putnam County Sheriff's Office at 845-225-4300. You may also choose to report the abuse to the Putnam County Rape Crisis Center at the number below. Remember, it is your responsibility to immediately report any knowledge of sexual abuse in this facility. Any delay may seriously affect the inmate's wellbeing and the outcome of the investigation.

Any person wanting to report a case of sexual abuse may choose to contact the Putnam County Rape Crisis Provider at the Putnam-Northern Westchester Women’s Resource Center, phone number 845- 628-2166 or may dial the NYS Hotline number toll-free, at 1-800-942-6906.

What happens when an incident of Sexual Abuse is reported?

All allegations of sexual abuse and/or retaliation for reporting an incident or sexual abuse or for participating in an investigation of an allegation of sexual abuse will be thoroughly investigated and may also be reported to appropriate law enforcement officials. No reprisals of any kind shall be taken against anyone for good faith reporting of sexual abuse or sexual threats. However, if investigation discloses that a person has falsely made allegations, knowingly, intentionally or with malice, he or she may be disciplined and/or charged with falsely reporting an incident as described in NYS Penal Law.

Avoiding Sexual Abuse:

Here are some things incarcerated individuals can do to protect themselves against sexual abuse:

  • Do not permit their emotions (fear/anxiety) to be obvious to others.
  • Do not accept gifts or favors from others. Most gifts or favors come with strings attached to them.
  • Do not accept an offer from another incarcerated individual to be your protector.
  • Find a staff member with whom you feel comfortable discussing your fears and concerns.
  • Be alert! Do not use contraband substances such as drugs or alcohol. These can weaken your ability to stay alert and make good judgments.
  • Be direct and firm if others ask you to do something you don't want to do. Do not give mixed messages to other inmates regarding your wishes or sexual activity.
  • Stay in assigned areas of the jail.
  • Choose your associates wisely.
  • Trust your instincts. If you sense that a situation may be dangerous, it probably is. If you fear for your safety, report your concerns to staff.
  • Follow the Facility Rules.


Information concerning the identity of an incarcerated individual victim reporting a sexual assault or abuse, and facts of the report itself, shall be limited to those involved in the reporting, investigating, discipline and treatment process, or as otherwise required by law.

What can I do to help?

There are many ways to help someone who has been a victim of sexual misconduct during confinement including:

  • Don’t be judgmental
  • Listen; be supportive and patient
  • Encourage them to report the abuse
  • Reporting abuse on their behalf

PREA Annual Report