Prison Rape Elimination Act


The NCJA advocates for effective criminal justice policy and adequate funding for state, local, and tribal justice assistance programs.

Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA)

The Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA) was signed into law by President George W. Bush on September 4, 2003. The law (P.L. 108-79) seeks to eliminate sexual abuse in correctional facilities by setting standards for the physical space and for the training, assignment, and conduct of personnel in the facility. All public and private prisons, jails, lock-ups, community corrections, and juvenile detention facilities must meet the PREA standards. A state is in compliance when prison facilities under its operational control meet the PREA standards.

Governors certify compliance, based in large part on audits done by Department of Justice (DOJ)-certified auditors. The first auditors are being trained and the first audits are underway in the Bureau of Prisons' facilities. State facility audits are expected to begin in 2014. The statute envisions a three-year audit cycle, whereby audits are conducted on one-third of the state’s facilities each year.Therefore, a state could be expected to complete the first audits by 2017.

Congress mandated that the penalty for noncompliance is5 percent of any DOJ grant funds "that it would otherwise receive for prison purposes," a term left undefined in statute. DOJ is interpreting this to mean any grant program eligible to be used for prison construction, administration or programming, which in FY14 will include the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program, the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act’s Title II formula grants, and the Office on Violence Against Women’s STOP grants.

Auditing and Certification Webinar

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NCJA, the National Governors Association, and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) hosted a webinar in March, 2014 to discuss the audit and certification process under the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). As of May 2014, Governors are required to make their first certification of compliance or non-compliance with the national standards of PREA. This webinar explores the purposes and requirements of PREA and the national standards, the governor certification process, and recent guidance related to the national standards issued by BJA through the National PREA Resource Center. The session also answers questions from participants regarding PREA and the National Standards, compliance issues, and the Department of Justice (DOJ) grant programs impacted by PREA.

This webinar is designed for state policymakers including: Governors’ criminal justice policy advisors and legal counsels; State Administering Agencies and their counterpart agencies which administer the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and the Office of Violence Against Women grant programs; state Attorneys General policy staff; and state correctional agencies.

Primary speakers included Ruby Qazilbash, Associate Deputy Director for Justice Systems/Corrections at BJA; and Jenni Trovillion, Associate Director of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, Co-Director of the National PREA Resource Center, and former Deputy Director of the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission.

For questions about the grant programs and how PREA impacts them, please contact For all other questions, or to request support, please contact the PREA Resource Center at

Additional Resources