Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA)

Passed in 2003, the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) is the first federal civil statute focused specifically on addressing sexual violence in juvenile facilities, jails, prisons, lockups, and other facilities. PREA established the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission, which held hearings about sexual misconduct in custody, issued reports on the problem of sexual victimization in secure facilities, and proposed standards for the prevention, detection, and response to sexual misconduct in criminal and juvenile justice settings. The law provided for data collection, technical assistance, early funding to assist states, and periodic reviews of facilities with high and low rates of victimization.

PREA also required the Department of Justice to issue standards outlining the steps that facilities must take to address sexual misconduct prevention, detection, and response. On June 20th, 2012, the Department of Justice officially published the final standards for four types of facilities: juvenile facilities, adult prisons and jails, lockups, and community confinement facilities. The final standards and the Justice Department commentary are available at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-06-20/pdf/2012-12427.pdf.

The resources below capture issues related to the sexual assault of juveniles in adult and juvenile facilties, in addition to the PREA's development of national standards.

CCLP Publications

  • Understanding the Impact of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Standards on Facilities That House Youth [download]
    This quick reference guide provides a summary of the key requirements for youth in juvenile and adult facilities. It is intended for individuals who wish to understand the new standards but who do not have responsibility for implementing the details of the requirements.

  • Compliance with the PREA Standards for Facilities That House Youth [download]
    This document is designed to help agency officials and facility administrators understand the scope of the PREA standards for facilities that house youth by summarizing the key provisions and providing a checklist of requirements to help guide implementation efforts.

  • Fact Sheet: Understanding the 2012 BJS Study of Sexual Victimization in Juvenile Facilties [Download]
    In June 2013, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) published a special report entitled Sexual Victimization in Juvenile Facilities Reported by Youth, 2012. The report was the second of its kind published by BJS. It captured surveys of 8,707 youth in facilities owned or operated by a state juvenile correctional authority and adjudicated youth held under state contract in locally- or privately- operated juvenile facilities.This fact sheet outlines the study’s key findings and methodology.

  • Best Practices Above and Beyond the PREA Standards [download]
    The PREA standards represent a minimum floor for efforts to prevent, detect, and respond to sexual misconduct. Indeed, the Justice Department did not include a number of best practices within the standards themselves, choosing instead to leave them to agencies’ discretion. This document outlines best practices that agencies can adopt in addition to the PREA standards.

  • Key Differences between the PREA Standards for Adult Prisons and Jails and the PREA Standards for Juvenile Facilities [download]

    On June 20, 2012, the Department of Justice officially published the final standards for four types of facilities: juvenile facilities, adult prisons and jails, lockups, and community confinement facilities. PREA standards for juvenile facilities and adult prisons and jails are mostly the same, but there are some substantive differences.  This fact sheet outlines those differences.

  • Comments From Youth Advocates on Minimum Staffing Ratios in Juvenile Facilities [download]
    In August 2012, the Center for Children's Law and Policy, along with a number of other youth advocacy organizations, issued a response to the Department of Justice's a call for public comments on proposed minimum staffing ratios for secure juvenile facilities as part of PREA. The comments support a minimum staffing ratio for secure juvenile facilities and recommend a number of modifications to the Department's proposed standard.

  • Protecting Youth in the PREA National Standards [download]
    On April 4, 2011, the Center for Children's Law and Policy, along with a number of other youth advocacy organizations, issued a response to a call for public comments on the Department of Justice's proposed standards for the Prison Rape Elimination Act. The comments suggest a number of important improvements to protect youth and staff in secure facilities.
  • Preventing the Sexual Abuse of Youth in Correctional Settings [download]
    On May 10, 2010, the Center for Children's Law and Policy, along with a number of other youth advocacy organizations, issued a response to a call for public comments on the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission Standards to Prevent, Detect, and Respond to Prison Rape. The comments call for the U.S. Department of Justice to implement the overall standards, in addition to making a number of key improvements to protect youth and staff in secure facilities.

  • Testimony of CCLP Executive Director Mark Soler [download]
    On June 1, 2006, CCLP Executive Director Mark Soler testified before the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission on sexual abuse of youth in juvenile and adult facilities. His testimony addresses key differences between adult and juvenile facilities.

  • Fact Sheet: Understanding the 2010 BJS Study of Sexual Victimization in Juvenile Facilties [Download]
    In January 2010, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) published a special report entitled Sexual Victimization in Juvenile Facilities Reported by Youth, 2008-09. BJS surveyed 9,198 youth in 195 juvenile confinement facilities across the country to determine the prevalence of sexual victimization. This fact sheet outlines the study’s key findings and methodology.

  • Fact Sheet: Independent Monitoring Systems for Juvenile Facilities [Download]
    Youth who are harmed in juvenile facilities should have a reliable and safe place to turn to report physical and sexual abuse, other staff misconduct or lack of care they need. In order for youth to step forward, though, they must also trust the investigatory process and feel safe from retaliation by facility staff and other youth. Independent monitoring systems – programs for receiving and investigating complaints from youth that are separate from an agency’s internal grievance mechanism – address that need by introducing independent eyes and ears in secure facilities. This fact sheet outlines best practices common to effective independent monitoring systems for juvenile facilities and provides examples of systems currently serving youth in facilities.

CCLP Presentations

  • Understanding What the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Means for Youth [download]
    On November 14th, 2012, Deputy Director Dana Shoenberg and Staff Attorney Jason Szanyi presented at the Models for Change Cross-Action Network Meeting in Arlington, Virginia. The presentation explains the history and goals of PREA, describes the PREA standards’ most important requirements, and explains how PREA can inform and support the work of juvenile justice officials, mental health professionals, and juvenile defenders.

  • Juvenile Law Update: Understanding What the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Means for Youth [download]
    On October 25th, 2012, Staff Attorney Jason Szanyi presented at the Missouri Juvenile Justice Association's fall training in Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri. This presentation, which was part of a larger track on updates in juvenile law, outlines the history and goals of PREA, discusses common themes in facilities that have problems with sexual victimization, describes the PREA standards’ most important requirements, and offers tips for implementation.
  • Conditions of Confinement:  Keeping Youth Safe in Juvenile Justice Facilities [download]
    In December 2008, Deputy Director Dana Shoenberg gave a presentation on sexual misconduct in juvenile facilities at a conference hosted by the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission. She highlighted aspects of facility conditions important to keeping youth safe from sexual misconduct and harassment. More information on the conference, entitled Behind Closed Doors: Preventing, Responding to, Investigating and Prosecuting Sexual abuse in Juvenile Justice Facilities, can be found by following this link.

Other Resources

  • National PREA Resource Center [link]
    The National Council on Crime and Delinquency was awarded a cooperative agreement with the Bureau of Justice Assistance to implement the National PREA Resource Center (PRC). 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.

  • Sexual Victimization in Juvenile Facilities Reported by Youth, 2008-2009 [Download]
    In January 2009, the Office of Justice Program's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) published a report based on the National Survey of Youth in Custody. The study indicated that more than 1 in 10 youth in state juvenile facilities and large local facilities reported experiencing at least one incident of sexual victimization by staff or youth in the previous 12 months.
  • Standards for the Prevention, Detection, Response, and Monitoring of Sexual Abuse in Juvenile Facilities [download]
    On June 23, 2009, the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission, created by the PREA to formulate national standards addressing the sexual abuse of prisoners, released its final report and proposed standards to prevent, detect, respond to and monitor sexual abuse of incarcerated or detained individuals throughout the United States. This document contains the Commission's proposed standards for juveniles.
  • National Prison Rape Elimination Commission Report [download]
    On June 23, 2009, the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission, created by the PREA to formulate national standards addressing the sexual abuse of prisoners, released its final report and proposed standards to prevent, detect, respond to and monitor sexual abuse of incarcerated or detained individuals throughout the United States. Part 7 of the final report reviews the special issues related to children held in secure facilities, noting that "juveniles in confinement are much more likely than incarcerated adults to be sexually abused, and they are particularly at risk when confined with adults."
  • Sexual Violence Reported by Juvenile Correctional Authorities, 2005-06 [download]
    This 2008 Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report indicated that the reported rate of sexual abuse in juvenile facilities was more than five times greater than the rate of sexual abuse in adult facilities.
  • Hearing: Elimination of Prison Rape: Focus on Juveniles [link]
    The National Prison Rape Elimination Commission held a public hearing on sexual abuse of youth in juvenile and adult facilities in 2006. The Commission's website contains testimony from numerous experts on the issue.

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