Bringing Sexual Violence Trauma-Informed Services Behind Bars: Getting a PREA Program off the Ground

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60 Minutes

Originally Aired
April 7, 2021

Aly Jacobs
Aly Jacobs, MEd
Director of Counseling and Advocacy
Houston Area Women’s Center

In 2014, under the aegis of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), the Harris County Sheriff’s Office funded a part-time Houston Area Women’s Center (HAWC) Counselor to support survivors who experienced sexual violence while incarcerated. More recently, in 2017, HAWC applied for and received funding for expanded PREA services. These included, in addition to the part-time Counselor, a full-time Services Coordinator, a full-time Counselor, a part-time Spanish-speaking Counselor, a part-time Educator to provide resources and referrals to inmates, and a full-time Educator to train facility staff.

In this workshop, using HAWC’s efforts to develop and sustain the expanded PREA programming in the greater Houston area, participants will learn about the critical need for and potential ways to create a PREA program, as well as best practices for working collaboratively with detention facility administration and staff. Because this programming connects to long-term social justice goals, the workshop also will include information about supporting survivors upon reentry. Participants also will have the opportunity to view the HAWC-Harris County Sheriff’s Office short film, Your Rights As An Inmate: Responding to and Reporting Sexual Abuse and Sexual Harassment. This collaboratively written and produced film is a powerful example of resource advocacy. The film features HAWC and Harris County Jail staff, as well as testimony from incarcerated survivors.


As a result of this webinar, participants will be better able to:

  • Restate the five most important reasons Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) programs are necessary in the context of social justice advocacy.
  • Identify strategies to start a collaborative PREA program between a community advocacy agency and systems-based providers.
  • Recognize common challenges and successes in inter-agency collaboration.
  • Summarize the importance of providing and connecting survivors to compassionate and survivor-centered resources and support upon re-entry.

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