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Other Matters: Services Provided at Department of Youth Services Facilities

Audit found that optometrist provided services to youths without having undergone important training.

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In 2003, Congress passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). Its stated purpose is to “provide for the analysis of the incidence and effects of prison rape in Federal, State, and local institutions and to provide information, resources, recommendations, and funding to protect individuals from prison rape.”  

In August 2012, the US Department of Justice issued its final PREA standards for correctional facilities. These standards require that medical professionals be trained in (among other things) detecting and assessing signs of sexual abuse and harassment, preserving evidence of abuse, responding professionally to victims of sexual abuse, and reporting allegations of sexual abuse and harassment. Additionally, the correctional facilities are required to maintain documentation that all medical professionals have completed this required training.

Despite this requirement, between August 1, 2012 and April 28, 2016, Dr. Khuong Nguyen provided 4,381 vision care services, totaling $149,888, to 1,221 youths in Department of Youth Services (DYS) facilities without having undergone the required PREA training. In April 2016, DYS officials became aware of this situation and notified Dr. Nguyen in writing that he would no longer be allowed access to the agency’s facilities until he completed the required training. Since that time, youths residing at DYS facilities in close proximity to Dr. Nguyen’s Westborough office have been transported to his office to receive vision care.

PREA does not require medical specialists who provide services to DYS youths outside DYS facilities to attend PREA training, but the Office of the State Auditor believes that DYS should require the training as a best practice. This training will better ensure that all medical specialists providing services to youths in DYS custody are aware of the PREA standards, which were designed to identify, prevent, and/or respond to potential sexual abuse and harassment.


Date published: July 16, 2018