Four Years Later: Progress on Many Fronts

Sidebar to the article Prison Rape: Research Explores Prevalence, Prevention by Pat Kaufman.

Today, 4 years after the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA) became law, progress has been made on many fronts:

  • The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) has developed uniform definitions of sexual violence, and in 2007, it released the results of its third annual national survey of reported allegations and the outcome of follow-up investigation in adult correctional facilities. The sample included 344 local jail jurisdictions that participated in the survey, assisting BJS in developing and implementing survey instruments and protocols. According to this review of administrative records, 47 percent of the estimated 6,528 official allegations of prison sexual violence in 2006 involved sexual violence between inmates and 53 percent involved corrections staff.[1]
  • In a separate 2007 study, BJS reported victimization based on anonymous surveys completed by a sample of male and female inmates currently in State prisons (and not, as in the BJS annual national survey referenced above, based on official allegations reported to correctional officials). According to the survey, approximately 27,500 inmates reported an incident of sexual victimization involving another inmate; 38,600 reported an incident involving facility staff.[2].
  • The Review Panel on Prison Rape held its first hearing in November 2006 at the California State Prison in Sacramento. (More information on the Review Panel on Prison Rape.)
  • The National Institute of Corrections (NIC) has held workshops across the Nation for senior correctional administrators to share ideas, strategies, plans, and programs related to PREA initiatives. In addition, NIC has developed a package of materials that includes videos (Responding to Prisoner Rape and Assessing Your Agency's Response to Prison Sexual Assault), a resource CD, and a slide presentation about PREA.[3] (More information from NIC.)
  • The Bureau of Justice Assistance has awarded more than $10 million to 16 States to train staff, buy and install surveillance equipment, develop advisory boards, pay for medical services for victims and predators, supply additional housing to safeguard victims, and add sexual assault awareness to inmate orientation programs.[4] (More information from BJA.)
  • The eight-member National Prison Rape Elimination Commission—which operates independently of the U.S. Department of Justice—has held public hearings around the country to, as Congress ordered, "carry out a comprehensive legal and factual study of the penological, physical, mental, medical, social, and economic impacts of prison rape in the United States."[5] The commission is in the process of developing national standards for the detection, prevention, reduction, and punishment of prison rape. (More information from the Commission.)

NIJ Journal No. 259 March 2008


[note 1] Beck, Harrison, and Adams, Sexual Violence Reported by Correctional Authorities, 2006, 3.

[note 2] Beck and Harrison, Sexual Victimization in State and Federal Prisons Reported by Inmates, 2007, 2.

[note 3]Report to the Congress of the United States on the Activities of the Department of Justice in Relation to the Prison Rape Elimination Act (Public Law 108-79), National Institute of Corrections, September 2006 (Accession number 022675).

[note 4] Ibid

[note 5] Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003, Public Law 108-79, Sec. 7, 10.

Date Modified: June 6, 2011