In 2003, Congress unanimously passed the landmark Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). The legislation established a zero-tolerance standard for sexual abuse in U.S. correctional facilities. Implicitly, PREA recognized that sending individuals to facilities where sexual abuse is tolerated is equal to the imposition of a greater—and unintended—punishment. PREA also called for the creation of a national commission to study the causes and consequences of sexual abuse in confinement and to issue national standards for preventing, detecting, responding to, and monitoring such abuse. The Commissioners believe that standard compliance will result in achieving PREA's original goal: the protection of incarcerated individuals from sexual abuse.

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