The Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 is the first United States Federal law passed dealing with the sexual assault of prisoners. The bill was signed into law on September 4, 2003. PREA covers all adult, as well as juvenile detention facilities. The Act supports the elimination, reduction and prevention of sexual assault and rape within corrections systems; mandates national data collection efforts; provides funding for the program development and research; creates a national commission to develop standards and accountability measures; applies to all federal, state and local prisons, jails, police lock-ups, private facilities, and community settings such as residential facilities.
PREA defines "prison" quite broadly. Within the context of PREA, prison is defined as "any federal, state, or local confinement facility, including local jails, police lock-ups, juvenile facilities, and state and federal prisons." Thus, short-term lock-ups, such as holding facilities and local jails regardless of size, are also subject to the provisions of PREA.
"Zero" tolerance policy against sexual abuse within juvenile facilities:
The San Bernardino County Probation Department has a zero-tolerance policy regarding sexual assault, sexual abuse and sexual harassment. Youth in probation facilities, individuals under probation supervision, probation staff, volunteers and collaborative partners have a right to an environment that is free from sexual abuse, sexual assault and sexual harassment.
The department will fully investigate and immediately address all allegations of sexual assault, sexual abuse and sexual harassment to include criminal and administrative sanctions as appropriate. Probation staff are to immediately report any instance of suspected or observed sexual abuse, sexual assault or sexual harassment verbally to a supervisor or administrator then to document the matter in writing within 24 hours. Probation staff, volunteers/contractors are required to immediately intervene when they suspect or observe sexual abuse, sexual assault or sexual harassment.
No probation staff member, individual subject to probation supervision, facility resident, volunteer, or collaborative partner will be subject to retaliation for acting in good faith to intervene in, report or document any incident of sexual abuse, sexual assault or sexual harassment.