About the Prison Rape Elimination Act
Ending sexual abuse and sexual harassment in confinement facilities benefits all Americans. Sexual abuse makes facilities dangerous for staff, inmates, residents, and detainees. This serious problem also consumes large amounts of taxpayer dollars for medical treatment and investigations, and undermines rehabilitative efforts, which in turn threatens public safety when inmates are released. The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) states: “Prison rape endangers the public safety by making brutalized inmates more likely to commit crimes when they are released.” See: 34 U.S.C. § 30307.
PREA is intended to make confinement facilities free from sexual abuse and its threat. It requires the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to prioritize the prevention and elimination of this serious problem. PREA also mandates that confinement facilities across the country implement policies that have “zero tolerance” for sexual abuse and practices to prevent, address, and respond to it. See: 34 U.S.C. § 30307
The Role of a PREA Auditor
The National Standards to Prevent, Detect, and Respond to Prison Rape (Standards) established a historic, one-ofa-kind PREA audit that is designed to assess compliance through written policies and procedures and whether such policies and procedures are institutionalized into a facility’s and agency’s day-to-day practices at all levels. As stated in the PREA Notice of Final Rule:
The success of the PREA standards in combating sexual abuse in confinement facilities will depend on effective agency and facility leadership, and the development of an agency culture that prioritizes efforts to combat sexual abuse. Effective leadership and culture cannot, of course, be directly mandated by rule. Yet implementation of the standards will help foster a change in culture by institutionalizing policies and practices that bring these concerns to the fore.
The PREA audit represents an important catalyst for meaningful Standards implementation and adoption of zero tolerance cultures for sexual abuse and sexual harassment in confinement. PREA auditors play a significant role in the successful implementation of the Standards nationwide and are critical partners in DOJ’s efforts to uphold the integrity of the PREA audit. PREA auditors are responsible for conducting high quality, reliable, objective, and comprehensive audits that hold agencies and facilities accountable for keeping individuals in their custody and care safe from sexual abuse and sexual harassment.