LA Coordinated System of Care
Emergency.Louisiana.gov

PREA

FEDERAL LAW

The Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA) is the first United States federal law passed dealing with the sexual assault of prisoners.  The bill was signed into law on September 4, 2003.  PREA covers all adult as well as juvenile detention facilities.  The Act supports the elimination, reduction and prevention of sexual assault and rape within corrections systems; mandates national data collection efforts; provides funding for program development and research; creates a national commission to develop standards and accountability measures; applies to all federal, state and local prisons, jails, police lock-ups, private facilities and community settings such as residential facilities.

PREA defines "prison" quite broadly.  Within the context of PREA, prison is defined as "any federal, state, or local confinement facility, including local jails, police lockups, juvenile facilities, and state and federal prisons."  Thus short-term lockups, such as holding facilities, and local jails regardless of size are also subject to the provisions of PREA.

I.   Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is PREA?

The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) is a federal law, Public Law 108-79, signed into law in September 2003.  PREA establishes a zero-tolerance standard against sexual assaults and rapes of incarcerated persons of any age.  This makes the prevention of sexual assault in OJJ facilities a top priority.

PREA sets a standard that protects the Eighth Amendment right (constitutional right prohibiting cruel or unusual punishment) of federal, state, and local youth offenders.

It also increases nationwide data on sexual misconduct and sexual assaults on confined persons.  It increases accountability for administrators who fail to prevent, reduce, and punish sexual misconduct and sexual assaults.

How does PREA impact OJJ facilities?

  • PREA addresses the detection, elimination and prevention of sexual assault in OJJ facilities throughout Louisiana
  • PREA funds the development of national standards of compliance and accountability for juveniles in OJJ custody
  • PREA directs the collection and dissemination of information on the incidence of youth-on-youth sexual violence as well as staff sexual misconduct with youth in OJJ custody

For PREA purposes, the term "prison" applies to all federal, state, and local prisons, jails, police lock-ups, temporary holding cells, private facilities, and community settings such as residential facilities.  The term "inmate" applies to any person of any age held in a custodial setting for any length of time by any of the facility types mentioned above.

To whom does PREA apply?

PREA applies to all public and private institutions that house juvenile and/or adult offenders, male or female.

What is the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission?

PREA established a National Prison Rape Elimination Commission (NPREC) with nine members appointed by both the President and Congress.  The Commission’s primary mission is to carry out a comprehensive legal and factual study of the impact of prison rape in the United States.  The Commission is charged with studying federal, state and local government policies and practices related to the prevention, detection, response and monitoring of sexual abuse in correction and detention facilities in the United States.  The NPREC studies all types of sexual abuse affecting persons of any age who are in confinement in the U.S.

What is the evidence of OJJ’s commitment to maintain a safe, humane, and appropriately secure environment for youth offenders?

OJJ and its predecessor agencies have at various times formed study groups to evaluate the agency’s readiness to detect and investigate inappropriate staff/offender relationships and to make recommendations for improvement.  Training received by new OJJ employees with direct care responsibilities has been examined and refined.  New OJJ employees serve as probationary employees for a longer period of time than in the past in order to ensure that they are properly trained and are a good fit with the agency before they are given permanent status.  Pre-service staff training has been extensively reworked based upon successful employee training methods used in other states.  Most recently, OJJ has established a PREA Steering Committee to ensure that PREA mandates are recognized and carried out in all OJJ facilities.

Standards of employee conduct have long included prohibitions against staff becoming inappropriately personally involved with youthful offenders.  Investigatory staff positions have been expanded with application of refined training and procedures.  Employee disciplinary actions and referrals to local District Attorney Offices have been initiated where appropriate.  When sufficient evidence exists, OJJ does not hesitate to remove employees who engage in inappropriate sexual conduct with incarcerated youth and to support criminal prosecution of that employee.

Questions regarding PREA may be referred to the OJJ Family and Community Liaison:

225. 287.7900 or toll free 800.594.3941 

E-mail: Donna.Bowie@la.gov 

Links:

An End to Silence: http://www.wcl.american.edu/nic/

Child Welfare League of America: http://www.cwla.org