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Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA)

Public Law 108-79
28 CFR Part 115

National Standards to Prevent, Detect, and Respond to Prison Rape in Confinement Facilities

In 2003 President Bush signed PREA into law. The Department of Justice (DOJ) then started working to develop national standards for implementation by federal, state, and local correctional organizations. The intended purpose of these standards is to provide comprehensive guidelines for preventing, detecting and responding to incidents of sexual abuse involving inmates in a confinement facility. After a lengthy process that included public review and comment, the DOJ published minimum PREA standards that significantly impact administrative and operational procedures of federal, state and local adult prisons and jails, lockups, community confinement facilities and juvenile facilities. The national PREA standards became effective on August 20, 2012.
On September 1, 2012 Secretary Maynard issued a directive establishing a “zero” tolerance policy for sexual abuse and sexual harassment of inmates. The directive designated the Department’s Chief of Staff as the PREA Coordinator, established a network of PREA Compliance Managers (PCM), formalized the PREA Committee (first formed in 2005), and assigned specific responsibilities to the PREA Coordinator and PREA Committee for oversight of all activities designed to integrate the national PREA standards into Department administrative and operational activities. This directive confirms that the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services:

  • Does not tolerate sexual abuse or sexual harassment of an inmate;
  • Shall continue an aggressive approach to preventing, detecting, and responding to acts of sexual abuse and sexual harassment involving an inmate; and
  • Shall ensure that existing efforts and new strategies to prevent, detect, and respond to acts of sexual abuse and sexual harassment involving an inmate comply with applicable national PREA standards.

All complaints of sexual misconduct or sexual assault are considered to be serious incidents that will be thoroughly investigated. The Department’s Internal Investigative Division is in charge of all PREA related investigations and will accept complaints from any concerned individual. Should an investigation reveal misconduct of a criminal nature the case will be referred to the local state’s attorney for prosecution. All confirmed incidents can result in administrative sanctions and/or criminal prosecution.

In September of 2014 the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services initiated its first series of compliance audits. Independent auditors, trained by the Department of Justice, began the audit process with a six week period of soliciting comments from all concerned individuals at each facility and a comprehensive review of policy and procedure. During a two week period in November auditors visited six facilities. Each facility was visually inspected and confidential interviews were conducted with inmates and staff. The auditors were provided full access to each facility and allowed to inspect all records and documentation. Upon the conclusion of the audit the auditors submitted reports of full PREA compliance for each of the facilities. In compliance with PREA standards the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services will continue the audit process to certify compliance at all facilities within the required three year period.

Copies of PREA audits are available to the public upon written request:

PREA Coordinator
Office of the Assistant Secretary – Programs & Services
300 E. Joppa Road, Suite 1000
Towson, MD 21286

Or email: