How Can the Prison Rape Elimination Act Impact Your Sentence?

How Can the Prison Rape Elimination Act Impact Your Sentence?

In 2004, Congress enacted the Prison Rape Elimination Act. This act is also known as the PREA. The act aims to address the problem of sexual abuse in U.S. prisons.

At the time, critics wondered whether we needed the PREA. But from 2011 to 2015, allegations of sexual abuse tripled. They rose from under 9,000 to almost 25,000, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Investigators substantiated more of those allegations, too.

What is the Prison Rape Elimination Act?

The Prison Rape Elimination Act applies to all public and private corrections facilities. Its goal is to end prison rape and sexual abuse.

Accordingly, the PREA includes several major policy updates:

  • A strict zero-tolerance standard for sexual assault
  • New standards for rape prevention and reduction
  • Research into prison rape
  • Funding for state and local governments to help with PREA compliance

The PREA should help reduce the number of sexual assaults in prison. However, it also helps you report if someone sexually assaults you, too.

How do you report a sexual assault in prison?

Image courtesy of Zhang Rong at iStock Photos.

There are many ways to report sexual assault while in prison. Your facility should have a toll-free number for reporting. You can call this number to make a report.

You can also report a prison rape or sexual assault in other ways. For example, you can submit a written request (also known as a “kite”). You can go through the prison’s grievance process. And you could also tell a staff member you trust.

In some cases, though, you might be afraid to report an assault yourself. You can also write or call a friend or family member. That person can make a report on your behalf.

The PREA requires that prison facilities take all allegations of sexual assault seriously.

Will you get in trouble for reporting prison rape?

You should not fear retribution for reporting sexual assault. According to the PREA, officials have a zero-tolerance policy for retaliation.

If anyone threatens or retaliates against you for reporting, you can report that as well. People who break these rules should face serious consequences.

Can you report a sexual assault against someone else?

Did you witness or know about a sexual assault in custody? You can report these incidents as well.

The methods for reporting are the same. You can talk to a trusted staff member in person. A letter or a phone call will work, too.

Be sure to give as much information as possible. Your report will help an investigator hold wrongdoers accountable.

How does a Prison Rape Elimination Act investigation work?


Agencies must investigate any report that names a victim in their custody. An investigation has seven steps:


1 Someone files a complaint.


2: Trained staff members are assigned to the facility in question.


3: Staff members conduct interviews and collect and review evidence.


4: Staff members decide if there is enough evidence for a case.


5: An investigator reviews the evidence.


6: The investigator submits their findings in a report.


7: Prosecutorial authorities decide whether to prosecute the case.

Subsequently, staff members, investigators and prosecutors will also look at the prison’s role. They will determine if a facility or its staff contributed to the problem in any way.

The Takeaway:

Above all, the PREA makes it clear that reducing sexual assault and rape in prison is a concern. Certainly, you have the right to be free from sexual abuse and threats of sexual abuse.

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