The Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr.
Attorney General
United States Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania A venue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20530-0001
May 1, 2014
Re: Prison Rape Elimination Act Certification
Dear Attorney General Holder:
Arizona has a long tradition of protecting our c1t1zens and honoring public safety
responsibilities. This tradition includes the protection of persons entrusted to our custodial care,
including incarcerated adult offenders and adjudicated juvenile offenders.
In Arizona, we have taken action to alleviate prison sexual abuse even without the
passage of the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act ("PREA"), which was passed by Congress in
2003 to prevent such conduct in federal, state and local lock-ups, jails and prisons. Arizona
agrees that reasonable steps must be taken to prevent sexual assaults and sexual misconduct in
correctional facilities. In fact, Arizona has a proven record as a leader in developing practices,
designing operating systems, and adopting preventive strategies to detect and respond to sexual
abuse in correctional facilities.
Arizona has zero-tolerance for sexual contact of any kind with offenders, including
sexual conduct, assault or contact, by offenders, staff, contractors, volunteers or others. Our
efforts include effective, reliable offender grievance systems, comprehensive training for staff
and offenders on awareness and prevention, and extensive quality assurance reviews and
vulnerability assessments.
Although no PREA violation is acceptable, in calendar years 2011 through 201 3, there
were only nineteen substantiated investigations that fell within the criteria established by PREA
in our adult correctional system and only four, none of which were staff-juvenile incidents, in
our juvenile correctional system. The adult and juvenile correction departments are the only state
institutions within my control that are subject to PREA. These substantiated cases resulted in
sanctions that included referral for criminal prosecution or termination of employment when the
violation involved a staff member. With a combined adult and juvenile population of nearly
42,000 incarcerated individuals, Arizona has demonstrated success in maintaining the safety and
security of the incarcerated population and our commitment to reducing and eliminating prison
sexual abuse in any form. This commitment predates PREA. Furthermore, Arizona officials
602- 542- 43 3 I • FAX 602- 542-7602
The Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr.
May 1, 2014
Page 2 of 4
responsible for the operation of our adult and juvenile correctional systems have consistently
adopted best practices and policies to further the PREA concepts, despite the nine year delay of
the final rules established by the United States Department of Justice ("DOJ'').
Arizona' s concern is not with PREA itself, but with the regulations recently adopted by
the DOJ. Arizona previously has submitted written comments expressing significant and
ongoing concerns with the DOJ regulations. Arizona has requested reasonable changes and
offered viable alternative solutions, but the regulations continue to be problematic and our
comments remain unanswered. The regulations impose substantial additional costs on the State
of Arizona, include requirements that do not represent sound correctional practices, create new
regulatory burdens for private sector providers of juvenile offender residential and rehabilitative
programs, and impose an expensive and overreaching monitoring/audit process on the agencies
and entities subject to the regulations.
Although 42 U.S.C. 15607(a)(3) provides that the DOJ PREA regulations may not
"impose substantial additional costs compared to the costs presently expended by federal, state
and local prison authorities," the new regulations do in fact create unreasonable and costly
unfunded mandates well beyond the original scope of the requirements established in PREA.
Congress' s intent is absolutely clear that there should not be substantial additional cost imposed
by the regulations. It is equally clear that the DOJ has ignored that Congressional directive.
Further compounding the matter, DOJ is imposing a punitive financial sanction on states that fail
to comply with the DOJ regulations, regardless of the unfunded mandated costs or the
unreasonable scope of the regulations. It also is hypocritical that the financial penalty associated
with non-compliance is not imposed on federally operated correctional facilities.
Arizona is and has been in compliance with the PREA concepts adopted by law in 2003
and is, by virtue of our own policies and practices, in compliance with the vast majority of the
DOJ regulations adopted in 2012. However, several significant regulations do not represent best
practices in regards to the safety and security of our correctional environments. Requirements
such as opposite gender security staff having to announce their presence prior to entering a
housing unit will actually promote the ability of predator offenders to pursue victims with no
concern of discovery by an unannounced staff member. This requirement is contrary to best
practices in security and may encourage discriminatory hiring practices based on gender.
Mandates for unreasonable and costly juvenile staff ratios also are unacceptable. The
ratios have no statistical or evidentiary basis, and limit the ability of juvenile correctional
facilities to include other direct supervisory contact staff such as youth program officers,
caseworkers, clinical staff, or teachers. The experience of professional juvenile corrections
practitioners has been that staff-to-juvenile ratios such as these are unnecessary, very expensive
and actually create staffing management problems that have a negative impact on the effective
and efficient operation of facilities. In fact, we estimate that it will cost the State of Arizona at
least $2.5 million to comply with the arbitrary and unjustified staffmg ratios in our juvenile
The Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr.
May 1, 2014
Page 3 of4
In addition, the requirements imposed by the DOJ regulations extend to the private
sector. The regulations will have a detrimental impact on private sector providers of residential
and rehabilitative programs for paroled juvenile offenders. Not only will it be extremely costly
for private providers to comply, but it wi ll increase state costs associated with compliance
monitoring and enforcement of the DOJ regulations on private sector providers. The regulations
also will have a chilling effect on private sector service provision placements. Many of the
private sector group homes/treatment facilities with which Arizona contracts to place juvenile
offenders on parole status cannot afford, and are not prepared for, compliance with PREA rules.
It may well result in them declining to provide services to these juveniles.
It is clear that the DOJ regulations require further review and revision, with input from
state and local correction' s officials, and should be consistent with Congressional intent.
I also am concerned that the DOJ has created a burdensome, poorly organized and costly
auditing process. The PREA compliance audit program imposed and operated by DOJ has
completely fail ed to address a variety of problems such as unavailability of DOJ certified
auditors and incomplete and confusing audit instruments. Despite these failures, DOJ has insisted
that arbitrary time fi·ames for completed audits be met. DOJ has failed to create an audit process
that wi ll facilitate is own requirements. Poor planning and refusal to work collaboratively with
the states on developing a fair and meaningful audit process is bewildering.
Moreover, I take issue with the manner in which governors are being directed to certify
compliance with the regulations. Given that I must consider the results of the most recent agency
audits in determining if Arizona is in full compliance, and given that the first round of agency
audits have not been completed due to inaction and poor planning on the part of DOJ, I am
precluded from rendering a determination and, therefore, unable to respond on behalf of Arizona.
PREA' s spirit and intent represents good cotTectional practice and ensures the protection
of persons in correctional facilities. As they currently stand, however, the DOJ regulations are
bureaucratic, untethered from objective and sound policy, costly, and overly burdensome. It is
my belief that many states share my concerns. I encourage DOJ to delay the PREA audits and
initiate a process to allow reconsideration and revision of the regulations which are contrary to
safe correctional practices, impede the cutTent work of the states in combating sexual abuse, and
create unnecessary operational or fi nancial burdens.
Arizona will continue to manage our correctional facilities so that they are safe for both
staff and offenders.
The Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr.
May 1, 2014
Page 4 of4
cc: The Honorable Andy Biggs, Senate President, Arizona State Senate
The Honorable Andy Tobin, Speaker of the House, Arizona House of
Charles Ryan, Director, Arizona Department of Corrections
Charles Flanagan, Director, Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections
The Honorable John McCain, U.S. Senator, Arizona
The Honorable Jeff Flake, U. S. Senator, Arizona
The Honorable Ann Kirkpatrick, U.S. Representative, Arizona
The Honorable Ron Barber, U.S. Representative, Arizona
The Honorable Raul M. Grijalva, U.S. Representative, Arizona
The Honorable Paul A. Gosar, U.S. Representative, Arizona
The Honorable Matt Salmon, U.S. Representative, Arizona
The Honorable David Schweikert, U.S. Representative, Arizona
The Honorable Ed Pastor, U.S. Representative, Arizona
The Honorable Trent Franks, U.S. Representative, Arizona
The Honorable Kyrsten Sinema, U.S. Representative, Arizona
The Honorable Bob Goodlatte, Chairman, U.S. House Judiciary Committee
The Honorable Patrick Leahy, Chairman, U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee
Dan Crippen, Executive Director, National Governors Association

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