About PREA

The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA ), passed unanimously by Congress and signed into law by President Bush in 2003, is the first federal civil law to address sexual violence in correctional facilities. PREA’s requirements apply to all detention facilities, including federal and state prisons, jails, police lock-ups, private facilities, and immigration detention centers.

PREA states that sexual assault in detention can constitute a violation of the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and requires that facilities adopt a zero-tolerance approach to this form of abuse. The law calls for the development of national standards addressing prisoner rape (specifically juvenile offender rape), the gathering of nationwide statistics about the problem, the provision of grants to states to combat it, and the creation of a review panel to hold annual public hearings with the best and the worst performing corrections facilities.