Prison Rape Elimination Act: Landmark Legislation To End Abuse Behind Bars Turns Ten

Sept. 5, 2013 Huffington Post

Ten years after the passage of landmark legislation designed to curb and eventually eliminate rape behind bars, prisoner advocates remain confident the law can save lives.

The Prison Rape Elimination Act, signed into law by George W. Bush on Sept. 4, 2003, is the "first federal civil law to address sexual abuse in detention," according to a press release from Just Detention International.

"PREA stands today as one of the most significant human rights victories in modern U.S. history,” Lovisa Stannow, JDI’s Executive Director, said in the release. “The law acknowledged that prisoner rape constitutes a crisis – something many people denied at the time – and that the government has a duty to end this violence."

Stannow said the law has had a "transformative impact."

"Corrections facilities are more transparent, and are adopting policies and practices that were simply unheard of before PREA,” Stannow said.

The legislation mandated a nationwide survey, released in 2010, that showed the prevalence of prison rape and abuse across the country.

The survey showed that one in eight detained youths are sexually abused. That number is nine times greater for transgender youths. Overall, about 200,000 people are sexually abused behind bars every year. Read More