Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- How do inmates report sexual misconduct?
- Will anything happen to the person who reports sexual misconduct, or provides information during an investigation?
- What do I do if someone I know is being threatened or victimized?
- How does the investigations process work?
- What happens to the person accused of sexual misconduct?
How do inmates report sexual misconduct?
Inmates serving their sentence within a Department of Corrections (DOC) facility are urged to report allegations of rape, sexual contact or staff sexual misconduct to the toll-free number:
- Prison Facilities: 0-800-586-9431
- Work Release/Community Supervision: 1-800-586-9431
Inmates can also report by submitting a kite, a grievance, telling a trusted staff member, asking a family member or friend to call the hotline, or by sending a written report to the PREA Unit in DOC Headquarters via legal mail.
Will anything happen to the person who reports sexual misconduct, or provides information during an investigation?
Per DOC Policy 490.800 Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Prevention & Reporting, the DOC recognizes the right of staff and inmates to be free from retaliation for reporting sexual misconduct. The DOC has zero tolerance for all forms of retaliation against any person because of his/her involvement in the reporting or investigation of a complaint. Retaliation may be subject to corrective/disciplinary action.
See DOC Policy 490.800 for more information.
What do I do if someone I know is being threatened or victimized?
If you have information regarding a Department of Corrections (DOC) inmate who has been the victim of sexual misconduct while under DOC custody or community supervision, please report it.
Additionally, the Office of Crime Victim Advocacy (OCVA) provides a confidential toll-free line for inmates to access support services if he or she, or someone he or she knows, has been the victim of sexual assault or sexual abuse at any time. This line provides access to community-based confidential support services and is not a reporting line. To learn more about how an advocate may assist, see the Advocacy Services for Incarcerated Survivors flyer for more information.
How does the investigations process work?
The Department of Corrections (DOC) has zero tolerance towards any form of sexual abuse or harassment in accordance with the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). All allegations naming as victims any inmate under the jurisdiction of the DOC in a institutional setting or the community are thoroughly investigated.
The DOC conducts administrative investigations into allegations of sexual misconduct, to include sexual harassment, promptly, thoroughly, and objectively. This includes all third–party and anonymous reports.
Staff who have received special training conduct these investigations as assigned by an Appointing Authority. Training includes interviewing sexual abuse victims, Miranda and Garrity warnings, evidence collection in confinement setting, and criteria required to substantiate a case for administrative action and prosecution referral. Investigators gather and preserve direct and circumstantial evidence, including any available electronic monitoring data, and interview alleged victims, suspected perpetrators, and witnesses. Appointing Authorities also review prior complaints and reports regarding alleged perpetrators and assess witness credibility prior to making decisions regarding these investigations. The credibility of an alleged victim, suspect, or witness is not be determined by the person's status as inmate or staff. Administrative investigations will also include an effort to determine whether alleged staff actions or failures to act contributed to the abuse.
The DOC will not require an inmate who alleges sexual abuse to submit to a polygraph examination or other truth–telling device.
Only the Appointing Authority can make investigation finding determinations after a thorough review of all physical and testimonial evidence included in the written investigation report.
For further details and information about the PREA investigation process, see DOC Policy 490.860 Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Investigation.
When the quality of evidence appears to support criminal activity, the Department will conduct compelled interviews only after consulting with law enforcement.
All sexual abuse cases will be referred for investigation by a Washington State certified law enforcement officer as defined in WAC 139–05–210 and RCW 9.46.210 . Law enforcement agencies will document their findings in a written report that contains a thorough description of physical, testimonial, and documentary evidence and attached copies of all documentary evidence where feasible. Law enforcement agencies will refer all applicable investigations to the Prosecutor's Office for review.
What happens to the person accused of sexual misconduct?
Each allegation in the investigation report is determined to be:
- Substantiated: The allegation was determined to have occurred by a preponderance of the evidence.
- Unsubstantiated: Evidence was insufficient to make a final determination that the allegation was true or false, or
- Unfounded: The allegation was determined to not have occurred.
The Department of Corrections (DOC) has zero tolerance for sexual misconduct of any kind, and will impose discipline for substaniated misconduct allegations, up to and including dismissal for staff and serious infractions for inmates who victimize other inmates. Incidents of sexual misconduct will also be referred to law enforcement when applicable.
See DOC Policy 490.860 Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Investigation for more information.