Beyond PREA: An Interdisciplinary Framework for Evaluating Sexual Violence in Prisons


This Comment brings together scholarship from feminists, criminal justice reformers, and social theorists to understand sexual violence in carceral settings and to evaluate reforms to prevent rape in prisons and jails. After introducing the sexual nature of modern incarceration itself, the Comment explains a framework for understanding prison and sexual assault that emerges from social thinkers who tackled the theories of violence and the ambiguous sacred. Drawing from feminist insights on sexual assault legal force requirements, consent, sex positivity, agency, and confronting stereotypes, the Comment then discusses PREA and its limitations in light of this interdisciplinary framework. Finally, the framework yields insights into reform measures and their efficacy, including conjugal visits, condom and dental dam distribution, reporting improvements, inmate classification systems, ending regulation of consensual inmate sex, prison abolition, new approaches and programming, and Eighth Amendment doctrinal changes.

About the Author

Michele C. Nielsen graduated from Princeton University with honors in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and from the UCLA School of Law in 2016 with a J.D.

By uclalaw