View the event recording.

The slide presentations are available at the bottom of this page.


According to a report released in December of 2007 by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, an estimated 60,500 state and federal prisoners reported one or more incidents of sexual victimization within the year.  Nationwide, 2.1 percent of inmates reported an incident involving another inmate, and 2.9 percent reported an incident involving facility staff members.

The results come from research mandated by the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), which establishes a zero-tolerance standard for the incidence of rape in U.S. prisons.

Previously only a few, small research studies investigated sexual violence in correctional institutions. Further, as the rate of women's imprisonment has increased over the past 20 years, so has the interest in women's prison research - the studies conducted highlight a culture of sex and adverse effects of victimization that are unique to female correctional settings, and must be considered.

This expert chat, sponsored by the Harvard Kennedy School's Government Innovators Network and the National Institute of Justice, featured a panel of experts who discussed the state of PREA research - what data is available and what's yet to come - and examined how we will move from better understanding to reliable prevention and eventual elimination. Ample time was allocated for audience Q&A.



National Prison Rape Elimination Commission - homepage
     - A.T. Wall: testimony to Commission
     - Barbara Owen:  testimony on risk in youthful populations
     - Barbara Owen:  testimony on risk in female populations

National Institute of Justice - new topic page on prison rape
     - also this topic page from the Office of Justice Programs

NIC/WCL Project on Addressing Prison Rape - This partnership addresses prison rape using identification and analysis, training, development of institution policy and state law, and enforcement.
     - Fifty-State Survey of Criminal Laws Prohibiting Sexual Abuse of Individuals in Custody
     - Fifty-State Survey - associated maps

Stop Prisoner Rape - Mission:  "...[T]o engender policies that ensure government accountability for prisoner rape; change ill-informed and flippant public attitudes toward sexual assault behind bars; and promote access to resources for survivors of this type of violence."
     - website includes a very comprehensive list of resources, academic and otherwise.

National Center for the Prosecution of Violence Against Women - Operating in the National District Attorneys Association, has developed several PREA-related resources, available upon request

Books and Articles

Sexual Victimization in State and Federal Prisons Reported by Inmates, 2007.  by Beck, Allen J., and Paige M. Harrison, December 2007.  Special Report - U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Sexual Violence Reported by Correctional Authorities, 2006, by Beck, Allen J., Paige M. Harrison, and Devon B. Adams, August, 2007.  Special Report - U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics.

"Analyzing Prison Sex: Reconciling Self-Expression," by Brenda V. Smith, Spring 2006. 13 No. 3 Human Rights Brief 17.

"Sexual Abuse of Women in United States Prisons: A Modern Corollary of Slavery," by Brenda V. Smith, January 2006. 33 Fordham Urban Law Journal. 571 (2006).

"Rethinking Prison Sex: Self-Expression and Safety," by Brenda V. Smith, 2006. 15 Columbia Journal of Gender and Law. 185.

Staff Perspectives: Sexual Violence in Adult Prisons and Jails, Vol 1: Trends from Focus Group Interviews, by Barbara Owen and James Wells, June 2006.  National Institute of Corrections.

Staff Perspectives: Sexual Violence in Adult Prisons and Jails, Vol 2: Investigating Sexual Assaults in Correctional Facilities, by Barbara Owen, Susan W. McCampbell, and James Wells, July 2007.  National Institute of Corrections.

The Prison Rape Elimination Act: Implications for Women and Girls, by Andie Moss, 2007. National Institute of Corrections.

NIJ-sponsored Grant Reports

Addressing Sexual Violence in Prisons: A National Snapshot of Approaches and Highlights of Innovative Strategies , by Janine M. Zweig, Rebecca L. Naser, John Blackmore, and Megan Schaffer, October 2006, NCJ 216856.

The Culture of Prison Sexual Violence, by Mark S. Fleisher and Jessie L. Krienert, November 2006, NCJ 216515.

Sexual Violence in the Texas Prison System, by James Austin, Tony Fabel, Angela Gunter, and Ken McGinnis, March 2006, NCJ 215774.

Recidivism Among Female Prisoners: Secondary Analysis of the 1994 BJS Recidivism Data Set by Elizabeth Piper Deschenes, Barbara Owen, Jason Crow, October 2007, NCJ 022183.

Also published by the U.S. Dept. of Justice

"NIJ's Response to the Prison Rape Elimination Act" Corrections Today, February 2006: 60-61.

Gender-Responsive Strategies: Research, Practice, and Guiding Principles for Women Offenders, by Barbara Bloom, Barbara Owen, and Stephanie Covington, June 2003. National Institute of Corrections.

Prison Rape: A Critical Review of the Literature, by Gerald G. Gaes and Andrew L. Goldberg, March 2004, NCJ 213365.

Annual Report to Congress: National Institute of Corrections: Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Public Law 108-79, National Institute of Corrections, 2004.

Annotated Bibliography on Prison Rape/Inmate Sexual Assault, National Institute of Corrections, 2004.


In the Mix: Struggle and Survival in a Women's Prison, by Barbara Owen, 1998. Suny Press.  (excerpts from book)