Statement on the Anniversary of the PREA
Ten years ago, Congress passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) to protect youth from rape and violence in America’s federal jails and prisons, an issue that continues to plague our prison system today.
Youth in adult detention facilities are often placed in solitary confinement to protect them from attacks, but isolation can be very harmful to the psyche of a young person, increasing the chance suicide attempts because they cannot cope. In fact, youth in adult jails are 36 times more likely to commit suicide than those in juvenile facilities.
I support the PREA because it protects incarcerated youth and prohibits placing youth in a jail or prison where they come in contact with adult inmates in a common space, shower area, or sleeping quarters.
The enactment of the PREA, and the regulations that have followed, represent the first time that America has created national standards to eliminate sexual abuse in prisons and jails. The PREA is a good start, but it only covers federal prisons. We should go a step further to enact PREA for state institutions as well to protect youth inmates in every jurisdiction.