Frequently Asked Questions For Juvinile Defenders

Document Type


Publication Date



National Juvenile Defender Center; NIC/WCL Project on Addressing Prison Rape


I. The Prison Rape Elimination Act

  1. What is PREA?

The acronym “PREA” stands for the Prison Rape Elimination Act. PREA was passed unanimously in both houses of Congress in 2003 and signed into law by President Bush. The law establishes a zero tolerance policy for sexual assault in custody and requires the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) to promulgate standards that detect, prevent, reduce and punish sexual assault in custody. PREA also created the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission which completed a study of cause, consequences and prevention of sexual abuse in custody and issue draft Standards to the Attorney General. The Attorney General based his final Standards on those proposed by the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission. The final PREA Standards address inmate-on-inmate and staff-on-inmate sexual abuse. The Standards cover all confinement facilities including prisons, jails, lockup, community confinement facilities and juvenile facilities. All federal confinement facilities, including military confinement facilities, Department of Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services facilities must comply with the Standards immediately upon their enactment.