Androscoggin County Jail meets federal standards on handling sex assault allegations

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Jan. 13—AUBURN — The Androscoggin County Jail is in compliance with a federal law on handling sexual assault allegations and investigations, according to an audit of 45 standards set by the U.S. Department of Justice.

"While being Prison Rape Elimination Act-compliant is voluntary for jails, we chose to achieve this designation to put best practices in place," Androscoggin County Chief Deputy William Gagne said in a news release Wednesday. "This ensures we have the highest standards for the prevention, detection and the proper response to any sexual allegations or abuse in our facility."

The report also allows the 134-bed jail at 40 Pleasant St. to continue to house and collect revenue for boarding federal prisoners, which it began doing in the past six months.

Jail officials volunteered for an audit after years of working to raise standards at the jail. The audit, completed in early October, judged the jail on its handling of sexual assault allegations and investigations. The auditor issued its report last week.

President George W. Bush signed the Act in 2003. The goal of the law is "to eradicate prisoner rape in all types of correctional facilities in this country."

The federal standards include matters of prevention planning, training and education, risk screening, investigations, data collection and discipline. The audit included an inspection of the jail and its policies and interviews with several jail officials, including the sheriff, the jail administrator and the jail's Prison Rape Elimination Act compliance officer, Capt. Lane Feldman.

"The Androscoggin County Sheriff's Office has policies that support compliance by defining the steps to prevent, detect and respond to sexual abuse and sexual harassment incidents," the auditor wrote in his report. "The agency's PREA policy also addresses prohibited behaviors and sanctions for any form of sexual misconduct."

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