Prison Rape Elimination Act Takes Effect; Is Illinois, the Country Prepared to Stamp it Out?

Prisons nationwide today will be expected to launch new staffing models, education programs, psychological screening exams and incident reporting mechanisms to address high incidences of rape among the incarcerated.

Reflecting a general trend in youth criminal justice to promote more rehabilitative practices over the punitive, implementation of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), which has been years in coming, is the latest step in protecting inmates’ rights.

PREA sets minimum standards for prison systems in their efforts to control inmate-on-inmate and staff-on-inmate sexual victimization. Although several state prison systems have already adopted some or all of its components, the act calls for universal compliance with basic tenants.

For Illinois, which was ranked among the four states with the highest rates of rape in youth prisons according to a Department of Justice study released in June, the goal is primarily to stamp out staff sexual misconduct.

More than 15 percent of Illinois juvenile inmates reported one or more incidents of victimization, and 13.7 percent cited prison staff.

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