U.S. Department of Justice

PREA / Offender Sexual Abuse

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    Your Role: Responding to Sexual Abuse
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    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 following videos:
    • Facing Prison Rape: How the Prison Rape Elimination Act Affects You (2004)
    • Responding to Prisoner Rape: Assessing Your Agency's Response to Prison Sexual Assault--in English and Spanish (2005)
    • Keeping Our Kids Safe: PREA and Juvenile Justice (2006)
    And... Read More
    VIDEO
    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
    2014
    Document 028164
    PREA Data Collection Activities, 2014
    By Beck, Allen J.. U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) (Washington, DC).
    "During 2013 and the first 4 months of 2014, BJS issued four reports: In May 2013, BJS published estimates of sexual victimization based on reports by inmates in adult prisons and jails; in June 2013, BJS published estimates of sexual victimization based on reports of youth held in juvenile facilities; and in January 2014, BJS issued two reports analyzing administrative records of sexual victimization in adult correctional facilities based on the Survey of Sexual Violence (SSV). In addition, BJS... Read More
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    5 pages
    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
    ZIP
    1 computer file
    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 presents 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 k... Read More
    PDF
    108 pages

    Related Resources

    Date Title Type
    2015
    Document 029778
    Why Americans Don't Care About Prison Rape And What Happens When the Problem Escapes from Behind Bars
    By Bruenig, Elizabeth Stoker.
    This article is an excellent analysis of why the general public accepts prison rape. It also address the impact prison rape has on the community. Topics discussed include: the housing of juveniles in adult facilities and their rape by those inmates; toleration and subtle appreciation of prison rape; the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) of 2003; more sexual assaults due to staff than other inmates according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS); factors that make the risk of victimization g... Read More
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    5 pages
    2015
    Document 030019
    PREA Data Collection Activities, 2015
    By Beck, Allen. U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) (Washington, DC).
    "The report summarizes BJS's efforts during 2014 and the first 5 months of 2015, which included analyzing administrative records of sexual victimization in adult correctional facilities based on the Survey of Sexual Violence (SSV), implementing changes to the SSV and completing data collection, and, for the first time, providing estimates of the rates of sexual victimization among transgender inmates" … Some of the highlights from this profile include: administrators of adult correctional facili... Read More

    5 pages
    2015
    Document 029843
    Keeping Vulnerable Populations Safe under PREA: Alternative Strategies to the Use of Segregation in Prisons and Jails
    By Hastings, Allison; Browne, Angela; Kall, Kaitlin; diZerega, Margaret. U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) (Washington, DC). National PREA Resource Center (Oakland, CA).
    "The purpose of this guide is to provide prison and jail administrators and staff with strategies for safely housing inmates at risk of sexual abuse without isolating them. Inmates at risk for sexual victimization—whether identified through screening or victimized in confinement—need protection from abusers, equal access to programming and health and mental health services, and congregate opportunities" (p. 3). Sections of this document include: introduction; a brief look at the use of segregate... Read More

    23 pages
    2015
    Document 029875
    National PREA Resource Center
    U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) (Washington, DC). National PREA Resource Center (Washington, DC).
    "The PRC’s aim is to provide assistance to those responsible for state and local adult prisons and jails, juvenile facilities, community corrections, lockups, tribal organizations, and inmates and their families in their efforts to eliminate sexual abuse in confinement. The PRC serves as a central repository for the best research in the field on trends, prevention, and response strategies, and best practices in corrections … This website consists of an extensive library, stories of efforts at co... Read More

    2014
    Document 028486
    PREA Employee Training
    U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) (Washington, DC). The Moss Group, Inc. (Washington, DC); National PREA Resource Center (Washington, DC).
    "This curriculum was developed to assist agencies in addressing training requirements found in PREA standards 115.31, 115.131, 115.231, and 115.331. Because each correctional setting represents distinct differences that cannot be captured easily in a one-size-fits-all training, it is anticipated that trainers will customize this training to more fully meet the specific needs of a particular facility or agency. To that end, it is essential that trainers work diligently with the agency PREA coordi... Read More
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    690 minutes
    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
    WEB
    16 minutes + 35 pages
    2014
    Document 029503
    Inmate Education Videos in English and Spanish with Subtitles [Supplied Title]
    U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) (Washington, DC). Just Detention International (JDI) (Washington, DC); National PREA Resource Center (Washington, DC).
    "Through a BJA PREA Demonstration Grant, the Wisconsin Department of Corrections was able to have the videos translated into Spanish and have and English and Spanish video with subtitles. This was an amazing task that will benefit many agencies and inmates nationally and we are pleased to be able to make these available on our website." The English version of this video and the accompanying Inmate Education Facilitator’s Guide can be downloaded at http://www.justdetention.org/en/PREA-what-yo... Read More
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    2014
    Document 029707
    An End to Silence: Inmate's Handbook on Identifying and Addressing Sexual Abuse|3rd Edition
    U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) (Washington, DC). American University. Washington College of Law. Project on Addressing Prison Rape (Washington, DC).
    "Though many correctional agencies have taken steps to comply with PREA standards and create safer environments for individuals in their care, inmates in custody still face sexual abuse and harassment by staff or other inmates. Staff and inmates still report problems identifying those at risk of sexual abuse, reporting sexual abuse, and holding those responsible for sexual abuse accountable. This publication is a tool for educating inmates about legal and other mechanisms, including the Prison R... Read More
    PDF
    75 pages
    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 027882
    Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Toolkit: End the Abuse - Protecting LGBTI Prisoners from Sexual Assault
    American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) (New York, NY).
    “A prison or jail sentence should never include sexual assault. On May 17, 2012, the Department of Justice released the final federal regulations implementing the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). These regulations apply to federal, state and local correctional facilities and lock-ups and include key protections for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) individuals. Despite— or likely because of—the decade-long process leading up to the passage of the final regulations, much... Read More
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    19 pages
    2014
    Document 028479
    Sam Survives [Graphic Novel]
    By Yarussi, Jaime M.; Smith, Brenda V.; Ross, Monica, illustrator. Ford Foundation (New York, NY). American University. Washington College of Law. End to Silence (Washington, DC).
    This publication is an excellent graphic novel for male youthful inmates, those under 18 years of age, which provides them vital information about possible exposure to sexual abuse in adult correctional settings. "The novel raises several important issues including: (1) the code of silence among inmates and correctional staff in a facility; (2) beliefs about protective pairing; (3) the experience of gender non-conforming inmates; and (4) and female staff as perpetrators of sexual abuse". It is ... Read More
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    27 pages + 1 page

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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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