U.S. Department of Justice

PREA / Offender Sexual Abuse

The Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA, P.L. 108-79) was enacted by Congress to address the problem of sexual abuse of persons in the custody of U.S. correctional agencies. The National Institute of Corrections has been a leader in this topic area since 2004, providing assistance to many agencies through information and training resources.

Major provisions of PREA include:


  • Adherence to a zero-tolerance standard for the incidence of inmate sexual assault and rape;
  • Development of standards for detection, prevention, reduction, and punishment of prison rape;
  • Collection and dissemination of information on the incidence of prison rape; and
  • Award of grant funds to help state and local governments implement the purposes of the Act.

The Act applies to all public and private institutions that house adult or juvenile offenders and is also relevant to community-based agencies. It addresses both inmate-on-inmate sexual abuse and staff sexual misconduct.

On June 23, 2009, the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission released and forwarded to the U.S. Attorney General its final report and proposed standards to prevent, detect, respond to and monitor sexual abuse of incarcerated and detained individuals. Based on the Attorney General’s independent judgment, a final rule was published to the Federal Register on June 20, 2012.

Links to the Federal Register, the Commission report and executive summary, the final standards, and other relevant documents are provided in the "Related Web Sites" sidebar to the left.


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Recommended Reading

Date Title Type
2012
Document 024657
Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Resources
National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC); The Moss Group, Inc. (Washington, DC).
This DVD contains NIC videos, DOJ proposed standards, an NIC e-course and dozens of documents to help you learn about the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). The disc includes:
  • the E-Course “Your Role: Responding to Sexual Abuse”
The following videos:
  • Facing Prison Rape: How the Prison Rape Elimination Act Affects You
  • Responding to Prisoner Rape: Assessing Your Agency's Response to Prison Sexual Assault
  • Keeping Our Kids Safe: PREA and Juvenile J... Read More
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1 data DVD
2013
Document 027514
Recommendations for Administrators of Prisons, Jails, and Community Confinement Facilities for Adapting the U.S. Department of Justice’s “A National Protocol for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examinations, Adults/Adolescents”
U.S. Dept. of Justice. Office of Violence Against Women (OVW) (Washington, DC).
“This guide is designed to assist administrators of prisons, jails, and community confinement facilities in drafting or revising protocols for an immediate response to reports of sexual assault. Sexual assault is a persistent problem in correctional environments with life-altering consequences for victims as well as for the integrity of correctional institutions and the fundamental principles of justice. The U.S. Department of Justice’s “National Standards to Prevent, Detect, and Respond to Pris... Read More
PDF
66 pages
2013
Document 026880
Implementing the Prison Rape Elimination Act: Toolkit for Jails
National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC); NIC-12RE05GKJ5.. The Moss Group, Inc. (Washington, DC).
UPDATED 11/26/13: Minor edits. “The goal of this Toolkit is to provide jails of all sizes, political divisions, and geographic locations with a step-by-step guide for preventing, detecting, and eliminating sexual abuse of inmates in their custody – and for responding effectively to abuse when it occurs. Prison rape includes all forms of inmate sexual abuse within a correctional facility, including state and federal prisons, county and municipal jails, police lock-ups, holding facilities, inmate ... Read More
PDF
1 computer file
2013
Document 026881
Implementing the Prison Rape Elimination Act: Toolkit for Juvenile Agencies and Facilities
NIC-12RE05GKJ5; National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC). The Moss Group, Inc. (Washington, DC).
“The goal of this Toolkit is to provide juvenile agencies and facilities of all sizes, political divisions, and geographic locations with a step-by-step guide for preventing, detecting, and eliminating sexual abuse of residents in their custody – and for responding effectively to abuse when it occurs. Prison rape includes all forms of resident sexual abuse within a correctional facility, including state and federal prisons, county and municipal jails, police lock-ups, holding facilities, residen... Read More
PDF
1 computer file
2012
Document 026218
PREA Data Collection Activities, 2012
By Beck, Allen J.. U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (Washington, DC).
Selected findings are provided from various data collection activities related to the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). Data was collected from the National Former Prisoner Survey (NFPS), National Survey of Youth in Custody (NSYC), National Inmate Survey (NIS), Survey of Sexual Violence (SSV), and the Clinical Indicators of Sexual Violence in Custody (CISVC).... Read More
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4 pages
2013
Document 027302
Sexual Victimization in Prisons and Jails Reported by Inmates, 2011–12
By Beck, Allen J.; Berzofsky, Marcus; Caspar, Rachel; Krebs, Christopher. U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (Washington, DC).
This report present statistics regarding the sexual victimization of prison and jail inmates by other inmates or staff. Sections of this publication cover: highlights; National Inmate Survey; incidents of sexual victimizations; facility-level rates; demographic and other characteristics; special inmate populations—inmates ages 16 to 17; special inmate populations—inmates with mental health problems; and special inmate populations—inmates with a non-heterosexual sexual orientation. Some of the ke... Read More
PDF
108 pages

Related Resources

Date Title Type
2014
Document 027957
PREA: What You Need to Know
Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) (Washington, DC). Just Detention International (JDI) (Los Angeles, CA); PREA Resource Center (PRC) (Washington, DC).
This resource is a must have for your agency! “The core goal of PREA: What You Need to Know is to teach inmates about their right to be free from sexual abuse and sexual harassment. The video gives an overview of corrections policies to prevent and respond to this abuse, covering how inmates can safely report abuse, the types of victim services available to inmates following an incident of sexual abuse, and what it means for a facility to have a “zero-tolerance” policy. Corrections agencies can ... Read More
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16 minutes + 35 pages
2014
Document 027978
Hope Behind Bars: An Advocate’s Guide to Helping Survivors of Sexual Abuse in Detention
U.S. Dept. of Justice. Office on Violence Against Women (OVAW) (Washington, DC); Just Detention International (JDI) (Los Angeles, CA).
Rape crisis advocates and other victim services providers need to read this publication. It is full of vital information these professionals need in order to address the needs of victims who have been sexually assaulted in a correctional facility. “This manual aims to help advocates take advantage of the unprecedented opportunity created by the PREA [Prison Rape Elimination Act] standards. It also seeks to anticipate some of the challenges that come with helping survivors who are incarcerated. W... Read More
PDF
44 pages
2014
Document 028325
PREA Audit Instrument – Community Confinement Facilities
U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) (Washington, DC). National PREA Resource Center (Washington, DC) .
“These documents comprise the instrument that auditors will use to audit the U.S. Department of Justice's PREA Standards for Juvenile Faculties.” Elements comprising this instrument are: “Pre-Audit Questionnaire”; “Auditor Compliance Tool” used to determine PREA compliance; “Instructions for PREA Audit Tour” of the facility; “Interview Protocols” for agency head or designee, facility director or designee, PREA Coordinator, specialized staff, random staff, and residents; “Auditor Summary Report” ... Read More
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2014
Document 028326
PREA Audit Instrument – Juvenile Facilities
U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) (Washington, DC). National PREA Resource Center (Washington, DC) .
“These documents comprise the instrument that auditors will use to audit the U.S. Department of Justice's PREA Standards for Juvenile Faculties.” Elements comprising this instrument are: “Pre-Audit Questionnaire”; “Auditor Compliance Tool” used to determine PREA compliance; “Instructions for PREA Audit Tour” of the facility; “Interview Protocols” for agency head or designee, Superintendent or designee, PREA Compliance Manager/Coordinator, specialized staff, random staff, and residents; “Auditor ... Read More
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2014
Document 028324
PREA Audit Instrument – Lockups
U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) (Washington, DC). National PREA Resource Center (Washington, DC).
“These documents comprise the instrument that auditors will use to audit the U.S. Department of Justice's PREA Standards for Lockups.” Elements comprising this instrument are: “Pre-Audit Questionnaire”; “Auditor Compliance Tool” used to determine PREA compliance; “Instructions for PREA Audit Tour” of the facility; “Interview Protocols” for agency head or designee, facility director or designee, PREA Coordinator, specialized staff, random staff, and detainees: “Auditor Summary Report” template; “... Read More
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2014
Document 027872
Sexually Abusive Behavior Prevention and Intervention Program
United States. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) (Washington, DC).
This document intends to “provide a written policy that implements zero tolerance toward all forms of sexual activity, including sexual abuse and sexual harassment, and to provide guidelines to address the following prohibited and/or illegal sexually abusive behavior involving: Inmate perpetrator against staff victim; Inmate perpetrator against inmate victim; [and] Staff perpetrator against inmate victim. This policy also covers incidents involving contractors and volunteers. These guidelines ar... Read More
PDF
63 pages
2014
Document 027991
PREA and LGBTI Rights
By Schuster, Terry. American Jail Association (AJA) (Hagerstown, MD).
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) inmates are especially at-risk for sexual assault. The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) provides guidance for ensuring that LGBTI inmates do not become victims of sexual abuse and harassment. This article is an excellent explanation of the “basic protections [required by PREA] for LGBTI inmates that every juvenile and adult correctional system will need to put in place and offer some extra provisions they should adopt to become models o... Read More
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5 pages
2014
Document 027991
PREA and LGBTI Rights
By Schuster, Terry. American Jail Association (AJA) (Hagerstown, MD).
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) inmates are especially at-risk for sexual assault. The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) provides guidance for ensuring that LGBTI inmates do not become victims of sexual abuse and harassment. This article is an excellent explanation of the “basic protections [required by PREA] for LGBTI inmates that every juvenile and adult correctional system will need to put in place and offer some extra provisions they should adopt to become models o... Read More
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5 pages
2014
Document 028171
Responding to Sexual Abuse of Youth in Custody: Responding to the Needs of Boys, Girls and Gender Non-Conforming Youth
American University. Washington College of Law. End to Silence (Washington, DC); National PREA Resource Center (Washington, DC).
"This is a 24-hour training covering the national Prison Rape Elimination Act Standards and implications for responding to the different needs of boys, girls and gender non-conforming youth who are sexually abused in custody. The following are the goals of this training: (1) review the applicable PREA Standards for responding to sexual abuse in custody and their gender impact; (2) review the dynamics of custodial sexual abuse for boys, girls and gender non-conforming youth; (3) identify the com... Read More
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2014
Document 028107
Commentary: Abandoned: Abolishing Female Prisons to Prevent Sexual Abuse and Herald an End to Incarceration
By Frank, David W..
"Because the U.S. is unable to prevent widespread sexual violations of incarcerated women, it should apply the prescriptions of a recent U.K. female prison abolitionist movement as the most effective and humane solution to the problem." This article explains how. It is divided into the following six parts: introduction; victims of U.S. prisons; mass incarceration's offense; the terror of sexual victimization; PREA's [Prison Rape Elimination Act's] failure--the scope of PREA, and the ineffectiven... Read More
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23 pages
2014
Document 027964
6 CFR Part 115: Standards To Prevent, Detect, and Respond to Sexual Abuse and Assault in Confinement Facilities; Final Rule
U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS). Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) (Washington, DC).
“The purpose of this regulatory action is to set standards to prevent, detect, and respond to sexual abuse in Department of Homeland Security (DHS) confinement facilities. Sexual violence, against any victim, is an assault on human dignity and an affront to American values” (p. 13100). Provisions of these standards are broken down into parts covering “two distinct types of facilities: (1) Immigration detention facilities, which are overseen by ICE and used for longer-term detention of aliens in ... Read More
PDF
85 pages
2014
Document 027954
Hearings on Sexual Victimization in Certain U.S. Prisons, Jails, and Juvenile Correctional Facilities
U.S. Dept. of Justice. Review Panel on Prison Rape (Washington, DC).
This website provides access to written testimony and meeting transcripts for: Hearings on Sexual Victimization in U.S. Jails, January 8, 2014; Hearings on Sexual Victimization in U.S. Prisons, January 8, 2014; and Hearings on Sexual Victimization in U.S. Juvenile Correctional Facilities, January 9, 2014. Dr. Reginald Wilkinson introduced the hearings by saying, “At times over the next day and a half, we are going to hear testimony from juvenile agencies, from adult institutional agencies, and ... Read More
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Available Training Opportunities

  • Available Online - Your Role: Responding to Sexual Abuse
    This e-course is designed to enhance correctional professionals’ skills in responding to incidents and allegations of sexual abuse.
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