Prison Rape Elimination Act

The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) was passed unanimously by both parties in Congress in 2003. The purpose of the act is to “provide for the analysis of the incidence and effects of prison rape in federal, state, and local institutions and to provide information, resources, recommendations and funding to protect individuals from prison rape.” (Prison Rape Elimination Act, 2003.) In addition to creating a mandate for significant research from the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the National Institute of Justice, PREA funding through the Bureau of Justice Assistance and the National Institute of Corrections has supported major efforts in many state correctional, juvenile detention, community corrections, lockups, and jail systems.

The act also created the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission and charged it with drafting standards for eliminating prison rape. Those standards were published in June 2009 and turned over to the Department of Justice for review and passage as a final rule. The Department of Justice published the final PREA Standards in the Federal Register on June 20, 2012, and they became effective August 20, 2012. 

In 2010, the Bureau of Justice Assistance funded the National PREA Resource Center to continue to provide federally funded training and technical assistance to states and localities, and to serve as a single-stop resource for research and tools for all those in the field working to come into compliance with the federal standards.

Learn more about Governors' compliance certification required under the PREA statute.

View the full text of the PREA statute.