12 May 2021
Sexual violence in correctional facilities is a long-standing problem. In 2003, Congress passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) with unanimous, bipartisan support. PREA established a mandate for data collection and research about the incidence and effects of sexual violence in federal, state, and local correctional facilities, provided funding to state correctional, juvenile detention, community corrections, and jail systems to work to prevent sexual violence, and created and charged the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission with developing standards to eliminate prison rape. Most states have faced challenges in implementing PREA standards, and research on PREA’s impact continues to be limited. This brief presents the current state of knowledge on sexual violence in correctional facilities and on PREA’s implementation and impact, and identifies research gaps and considerations for future research. This brief is part of a larger research agenda for thePrison Research and Innovation Initiative—an effort to build evidence and spur innovation to make prisons more humane, safe, and rehabilitative environments for the people who are confined and work in them.