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New Alarming Report on PREA Data

Posted in Research & Policy Friday, 01 July 2016

The Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 is a crucial law on many fronts, including for the safety of youth involved in the justice system. One of its provisions is a yearly data collection requirement, carried out by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. This year’s comprehensive statistical review and analysis of the incidence and effects of prison rape was just released, and it contains some pretty alarming numbers.

According to the report, “The number of youth held in state juvenile systems declined sharply, from 38,580 at year end 2006 to 19,095 at year end 2012. As a result, the rate of sexual victimization allegations per 1,000 youth held in state juvenile systems more than doubled, from 19 per 1,000 youth in 2005 to 47 per 1,000 in 2012.” Despite a significant decrease in the number of youth in the juvenile justice system and the tireless efforts made to widely and properly implement PREA, sexual victimizations have dramatically increased. Additionally, the report cites that 45% of the 9,500 allegations of sexual victimization reported between 2007 and 2012 involved staff-on-youth sexual victimization.

The report also highlights that LGB youth are much more vulnerable to be sexually assaulted while in custody.  LGB youth (10.4%) were more than seven times as likely as heterosexual youth (1.4%) to be assaulted by another youth.

Overall, this document shows that there is still a long way to go in the fight to end prison rape, and that one of the best tools with have to do so is the Prison Rape Elimination Act, which has surfaced the increasing prevalence of the rape and sexual assault of children in custody.  While PREA was passed in 2003, it is unfortunately not fully implemented, though it has become the new standard of care for children in custody. 

The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) is a federal statute focused on sexual assault and victimization in juvenile facilities, prisons, jail, lockups, and other detention facilities. The goal of PREA is to prevent, detect, and respond to sexual abuse in detention and correctional facilities.  BJS will issue a second report on PREA in November/December 2016 that will report on the safety of youth in adult facilities.

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