U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

National Prison Rape Statistics Program

Description

The Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA; P.L. 108-79) requires BJS to carry out an annual comprehensive statistical review and analysis of the incidence and effects of prison rape. This review must include, but is not limited to, the identification of the common characteristics of both victims and perpetrators of prison rape, and prisons and prison systems with a high incidence of prison rape. Analysis must—

  • be based on a random sample, or other scientifically appropriate sample, of not less than 10% of all federal, state, and county prisons, and a representative sample of municipal prisons; and include at least one prison from each state
  • use surveys and other statistical studies of current and former inmates from a representative sample of federal, state, county, and municipal prisons, and ensure the confidentiality of each survey participant
  • specify a list of institutions in the sample, separated by type and ranked according to the incidence of prison rape in each institution; and
  • provide a list of any prisons in the sample that did not cooperate with the survey.

PREA applies to all correctional facilities, including prisons, jails, juvenile facilities, military and Indian country facilities, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities. Recognizing the sensitive nature of sexual victimization and the potential reluctance of victims to report sexual assault, BJS developed the National Prison Rape Statistics Program (NPRSP) to collect multiple measures of the incidence and prevalence of sexual victimization in correctional settings. The NPRSP currently includes—

  • the National Survey of Youth in Custody (NSYC) provides prevalence and incidence estimates of youth reporting sexual victimization in juvenile facilities.
  • the National Inmate Survey (NIS) gathers data on the prevalence and incidence of sexual assault in adult prisons and local jail facilities as reported by state prisoners and local jail inmates.
  • the Survey of Sexual Victimization (SSV) an administrative data collection based on official records of allegations and substantiated incidents kept by adult correctional and juvenile facilities.

Terms & Definitions

Outcomes of investigations

Substantiated allegation means the event was investigated and determined to have occurred, based on a preponderance of the evidence (28 C.F.R. §115.72).

Unfounded allegation means the investigation determined that the event did not occur.

Unsubstantiated allegation means the investigation concluded that evidence was insufficient to determine whether or not the event occurred.

Sexual victimization as reported by adult correctional authorities

Inmate-on-inmate or youth-on-youth sexual victimization involves non-consensual sexual acts or abusive contact with a victim without his or her consent or with a victim who cannot consent or refuse.

Non-consensual sexual acts are the most serious victimizations and include—

  • contact between the penis and the vulva or the penis and the anus, including penetration, however slight
  • contact between the mouth and the penis, vulva, or anus
  • penetration of the anal or genital opening of another person, however slight, by a hand, finger, object, or other instrument.

Abusive sexual contact is less serious and includes intentional touching, either directly or through the clothing, of the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks of any person. Incidents in which the contact was incidental to a physical altercation are excluded.

Sexual harassment by another inmate includes—

  • repeated and unwelcome sexual advances
  • requests for sexual favors
  • verbal comments, gestures, or actions of a derogatory or offensive sexual nature.

Staff-on-inmate or staff-on-youth sexual victimization includes both consensual and non-consensual acts perpetrated on an inmate by staff. Staff includes an employee, volunteer, contractor, official visitor, or other agency representative. Family, friends, and other visitors are excluded.

Staff sexual misconduct includes any consensual or non-consensual behavior or act of a sexual nature directed toward an inmate by staff, including romantic relationships. Such acts include—

  • intentional touching, either directly or through the clothing, of the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks that is unrelated to official duties or with the intent to abuse, arouse, or gratify sexual desire
  • completed, attempted, threatened, or requested sexual acts
  • occurrences of indecent exposure, invasion of privacy, or staff voyeurism for reasons unrelated to official duties or for sexual gratification.

Staff sexual harassment includes repeated verbal comments or gestures of a sexual nature to an inmate by staff. Such statements include—

  • demeaning references to an inmate's sex or derogatory comments about his or her body or clothing
  • repeated profane or obscene language or gestures.

Sexual victimization as reported by youth in juvenile facilities

Sexual victimization includes any forced sexual activity with another youth (non-consensual sexual acts and other sexual contacts) and all sexual activity with facility staff.

Non-consensual sexual acts include any forced sexual acts with another youth and all sexual acts with facility staff involving contact with the penis and the vagina or anus; contact between the mouth and the penis, vagina, or anus; penetration of the anal or vaginal opening of another person by a hand, finger, or other object; and rubbing of another person's penis or vagina by a hand.

Other sexual contacts only includes kissing on the lips or another part of the body, looking at private body parts, being shown something sexual, such as pictures or a movie, and engaging in some other sexual act that did not involve touching.

Staff sexual misconduct includes all sexual activity with facility staff, including contact with the penis and the vagina or anus; contact between the mouth and the penis, vagina, or anus; penetration of the anal or vaginal opening of another person by a hand, finger, or other object; rubbing of another person's penis or vagina by a hand; kissing on the lips or another part of the body; looking at private body parts; being shown something sexual, such as pictures or a movie; and engaging in some other sexual act that did not involve touching.

Staff sexual misconduct excluding touching includes sexual activity with facility staff involving contact with the penis and the vagina or anus; contact between the mouth and the penis, vagina, or anus; penetration of the anal or vaginal opening of another person by a hand, finger, or other object; and rubbing of another person's penis or vagina by a hand.

Forced sexual activity includes sexual activity between youth and facility staff as a result of physical force or threat of physical force; force or pressure of some other type (e.g., threatening with harm, threatening to get the youth in trouble, pressuring the youth, or forcing or pressuring in some other way); and in return for money, favors, protection, or other special treatment.