Congress enacted the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA) to address the problem of sexual abuse of persons in the custody of U.S. correctional agencies. P.R.E.A. calls for Federal, State, and local corrections systems to have a zero-tolerance policy regarding prison rape (as defined by P.R.E.A.) in prisons, jails, police lock-ups, and other confinement facilities. P.R.E.A. applies to all correctional facilities, including prisons, jails, juvenile facilities, military and Indian country facilities, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) facilities (P.R.E.A., Public Law 108-79).
Highlights of the mandatory P.R.E.A. compliance guidelines include development of standards for detection, prevention, reduction, and punishment of prison rape; standardized collection and dissemination of information on the incidence of prison rape and periodic audits of all facilities to ensure operational compliance with all mandates. The Act applies to all public and private institutions that house adult or juvenile offenders and to community-based correctional agencies.