Elimination Act (PREA)
28 C.F.R., Part 115
What is PREA?
PREA was signed into law on September 4, 2003. The final regulatory standards to implement
PREA went into effect on Aug. 20, 2012.
PREA standards are designed to prevent, detect, respond and
eliminate incidences of sexual abuse and sexual harassment. Every agency facility must undergo a PREA
audit by a Department of Justice Certified Auditor once every three-year audit
cycle to demonstrate full compliance with the PREA standards.
adheres to a zero tolerance standard regarding sexual abuse. Anyone who engages in fails to report, or
knowingly condones sexual abuse or sexual harassment of an inmate shall be
subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination, and may be
subject to criminal prosecution.
PREA applies to what types of facilities?
PREA applies to confinement
federal and state prisons,
juvenile detention centers, and
immigration detention facilities.
What constitutes staff sexual misconduct with inmates?
misconduct with an inmate is generally defined as any behavior or act of a
sexual nature by a staff member, contractor or volunteer that includes sexual
contact or attempts, threats, requests for sexual contact, exhibitionism and/or
voyeurism. This can also include sexually
harassing behavior to include verbal comments or gestures that are sexually
suggestive or demeaning references to gender, sexuality and body.
What are the possible investigative outcomes of a PREA investigation?
Investigative outcomes can result in findings that are substantiated,
unsubstantiated or unfounded.
Substantiated Allegation – means an allegation that was investigated and determined to have
occurred. The agency shall impose
no standard higher than a preponderance of the evidence in determining whether
allegations of sexual abuse or sexual harassment are substantiated. (§115.72)
Unsubstantiated Allegation – means an allegation that was investigated and the investigation
produced insufficient evidence to make a final determination as to whether or
not the event occurred.
Unfounded Allegation – means an
allegation that was investigated and determined not to have occurred.
*In accordance with
the PREA standards, inmates are to be notified of the investigative outcome
following a sexual abuse investigation in which they were the alleged
What should staff do when sexual abuse or sexual harassment is
Staff and agency reporting duties require all staff to report
immediately and according to agency policy any knowledge, suspicion, or
information regarding an incident of sexual abuse or sexual harassment that
occurred in a facility, whether or not it is part of the agency; retaliation
against inmates or staff who reported such an incident; and any staff neglect
or violation of responsibilities that may have contributed to an incident or
The report may be
made verbally, in writing or anonymously by an inmate, friend or family member
(on behalf of an inmate) or staff member to the third-party reporting address which
was established in cooperation with the Pennsylvania State Police. The address is BCI/PREA Coordinator at 1800
Elmerton Avenue, Harrisburg, PA 17110.
What is the penalty for engaging in or not reporting sexual abuse
and sexual harassment?
Staff may face disciplinary
action up to and including termination for violating sexual abuse or sexual
harassment policies. Termination shall
be the presumptive disciplinary sanction for staff who have engaged in sexual
What does the federal law require of each state?
In order to assure
PREA Compliance, all facilities under the Governor’s operational control are
required to take action to prevent, detect, reduce and respond to sexual abuse.
Among these actions are
establishment of a zero-tolerance standard for sexual abuse and
collection and reporting data of prison sexual violence;
training staff, contractors or volunteers about the nature of
prison sexual violence, and how to prevent, detect and respond to incidents of
thorough and appropriate risk assessments and screening of
ensuring that victims of sexual abuse have access to medical care,
mental health treatment and outside victim advocacy services;
disciplining and prosecution of staff who perpetrate sexual abuse;
holding administrators accountable for occurrences of prison sexual
What if Pennsylvania does not comply with PREA requirements?
committed to assuring the sexual safety of all individuals in its custody and
creating an environment that is conducive to rehabilitation. In addition to a five percent reduction in
federal criminal justice funding for each year that the Commonwealth is not in
compliance, more importantly, the Commonwealth experiences associated indirect
costs, such as increased recidivism, consumption of community resources and
health effects that it is working diligently to prevent.
Where can I go for
This page was last updated March 9, 2017