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” (2009)
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)
  • <... 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
ZIP
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 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 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 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
2014
Document 028484
Victim Services and PREA: A Trauma-Informed Approach
U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) (Washington, DC). Just Detention International (Los Angeles, CA); National PREA Resource Center (Washington, DC).
This training program "was designed to prepare corrections staff to develop and implement a victim services program that is both trauma-informed and victim-centered. The curriculum includes material that involves aspects of the following PREA standards: 115.16, 115.21–.22, 115.51, 115.53–.54, 115.61–.68, 115.73, 115.81–.83, and 115.86. The curriculum guides officials, step-by-step, through the process of establishing victim services programs in a variety of confinement settings; prepares staff m... Read More
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525 minutes
2014
Document 028478
Ending Silence: Demanding Safety from Sexual Assault Graphic Novel Series
By Bess, Caleb J.; Heinsen, Rebecca I.; Yarussi, Jaime M.; Smith, Brenda V.; Auger, Michael J., illustrator. U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) (Washington, DC). American University. Washington College of Law. End to Silence (Washington, DC); National PREA Resource Center (Washington, DC).
This is an excellent "series of graphic novels for adult inmates in custodial settings. These graphic novels are intended to educate inmates about how to identify and address incidents of sexual assault. The plot lines in these graphic novels dramatize situations we know occur in custodial settings. The use of graphic novels in community education projects is well established. Through presenting information through an illustrative medium, these novels aim to disseminate information about the sex... Read More
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3 volumes (volume 1 – 24 pages, volume 2 – 32 pages, volume 3 – 24 pages)
2014
Document 028465
Cross Gender Supervision and Legal Liability [Webinar]
By Smith, Brenda V.. U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) (Washington, DC). American University. Washington College of Law. End to Silence (Washington, DC); National PREA Resource Center (Washington, DC); National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD) (Oakland, CA).
"This webinar focuses on the legal liability of agencies and staff when engaging in cross gender supervision and searches of people in custody." Topics discussed include: important factors for cross gender searches and supervision; the legal framework—Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) standards and DOJ guidance, Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, Prison Litigation Reform Act, Violence Against Women Act amendments, PREA exhaustion of administration remedies, Federal Torts Claims Act,... Read More
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90 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
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16 minutes + 35 pages
2014
Document 029503
Inmate Education Videos in Spanish and with Subtitles
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."... Read More

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 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

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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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