By Michael P. Donaher, PREA Coordinator
Forty-two investigators from throughout the DOC and several counties (Berkshire, Bristol, Dukes, Essex, Franklin, Hampden, Middlesex, Plymouth, and Worcester) came together to participate in the Sexual Assault Investigator’s Training (SAIT), which took place in the DOC’s Milford headquarters during February 3-5, 2016. The training, mandated by the 2003 Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), requires all sexual assault investigators to go through specialized training prior to undertaking any PREA related investigation. Additionally, this training is also a critical, mandatory component to ensure a facility meets the requirements set forth in the Department of Justice PREA audit standards, without it a facility cannot pass their respective DOJ PREA audit.
Patrick DePalo, Chief of Investigative Services noted in his opening remarks at the start of the training the importance of the training and the comprehensive nature of a PREA investigation. He underscored the fact that those in attendance were chosen as investigators based on their “demonstrated potential, professionalism and maturity.”
Chief DePalo went on to say, “Just because an inmate is locked-up doesn’t mean no one cares. It is your responsibility as an investigator to uncover the facts during your investigation and ensure that the inmates entrusted in our care are kept safe and free of sexual abuse and sexual harassment.”
Jennifer Gaffney, Director of the Policy Development and Compliance & PREA Unit thanked the participants for their attendance and emphasized the critical nature of the training. Director Gaffney reminded staff that the DOC has a “zero tolerance toward all forms of sexual abuse and sexual harassment.” She noted the DOC successfully passed 10 DOJ PREA audits over the last several months, and was quick to point-out that “without this type of training, the DOC would not have been successful in passing these last ten audits.” She concluded her remarks by expressing her appreciation to members of the Office of Investigations and the members for the Division of Staff Development for their assistance in coordinating the SAIT.
Over the course of three days, participants were provided with a number of presentations, case vignettes and hands-on training scenarios which included: techniques for interviewing sexual assault victims, proper use of Miranda and Garrity warnings and Weingarten rights, sexual abuse evidence collection in a confinement setting, and the criteria and evidence required to substantiate a case for administrative action or prosecution referral.
The training culminated on day three with a “round table” discussion with the following panel members: Kartia Santiago-Taylor & Dave Rini, both from the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, Attorney Daryl Glazer, from DOC Legal Division, and Sherry Menendez, from the Massachusetts State Police Crime Lab. These panel members were able to share their years of experience and offered those in attendance with their “best practices” in their respective areas of expertise.
Based on the enthusiastic participation by the attendees and the initial review of the course evaluations by them, the SAIT was an overwhelming success.
Many thanks to the following SAIT trainers: Denise McDonough (BSH), Janice Perez, Mark Richards and Erica Bouchard (MCI-Shirley), Danielle Laurenti (MCI-Norfolk), Matt Proplaski (NCCI) and John Tamoosh (Plymouth County). As a direct result of their professionalism, expertise and commitment to ensure that the PREA standards are consistently being met, both the DOC and the county correctional facilities continue to embody the cornerstones of PREA: Prevention, Detection and Response to all allegations of sexual assaults and or sexual harassment within a correctional setting.
A big “thank you!” to Linda Melo of the PDCU for coordinating the registration process, her assistance throughout the entire process was invaluable.