Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA)
More than 1 million women are currently incarcerated or otherwise under the control of the justice system in the U.S. Many incarcerated women—nearly 60% of female state prisoners nation-wide and as many as 94% of certain female prison populations—have a history of physical or sexual abuse, and their involvement in the justice system leaves many incarcerated women vulnerable to revictimization.
Pursuant to the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA), the Department of Justice released proposed standards to combat sexual assault in confinement. As seen in the legislative history of PREA, the impetus for the legislation was the male experience of rape during incarceration, leaving out women prisoners’ particular needs. The experience of sexual abuse and rape while imprisoned is different for women than it is for men. Unlike men who are more frequently abused by other inmates, women are more likely to be subject to abuse from a member of the prison staff than from another inmate. The Department of Justice’s proposed standards thus fail to address the needs of incarcerated women in two ways. First, an insufficient attention is paid to staff-on-inmate abuse. Second, the grievance procedures do not adequately account for the fear inmates have of retaliation from staff—as opposed to other inmates—for reporting sexual abuse.
Due to the deficiencies of the proposed standards, the Georgetown University Law Center, the ACLU and other concerned organizations submitted comments to Attorney General Holder asking for standards that address the particular needs of incarcerated women.
Summary of the Comments:
Effective Grievance Procedures
Defining "Zero Tolerance"