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Last Thursday, nearly nine years after Congress passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA), the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued the first set of binding national standards to address sexual abuse in U.S. confinement settings. The promulgation of the standards coincides with the publication of an important new Bureau of Justice Statistics study that finds that one in 10 former state prisoners experienced at least one incident of sexual victimization during their most recent incarceration. The Vera Institute of Justice supports the standards and looks forward to the next phase of implementation as systems and facilities work to comply with the regulations and make their institutions safer.
Vera is a member of the National PREA Resource Center Task Force and former technical assistance provider for the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission (also established by PREA) that drafted the first set of standards for the attorney general’s consideration. Vera believes that DOJ’s strong standards will go a long way toward helping protect incarcerated individuals from sexual abuse and will help ensure that when sexual abuse does occur, victims receive competent, victim-centered care.