Survivor Safety: The Prison Rape Elimination Act & Maryland Resources for Incarcerated Survivors

Feb 10th, 2023

by Grace Rupp, SART/PREA Policy Specialist

Sexual abuse and violence continue to plague detention facilities in the United States. Every year, roughly 200,000 adults and children are sexually abused behind bars (Beck, 2013).  Sexual violence is a severe and pervasive problem in correctional facilities, yet sexual violence should not be an inevitable part of incarceration. Rather, when correctional facilities and facility leadership embrace and consistently implement the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), sexual violence in detention can be eliminated and perpetrators held accountable. 

PREA is a federal law establishing national standards to prevent and respond to sexual harassment and abuse in prisons, jails, and community and juvenile confinement facilities. PREA’s requirements apply to all detention facilities, requiring institutions to adopt a zero-tolerance approach to sexual abuse and harassment. PREA ensures that survivors who are incarcerated can access confidential support services, typically advocacy from Rape Crisis Centers or other community mental health providers. In addition to confidential advocacy access, PREA works to ensure that inmates can report sexual abuse or harassment to an entity other than the one that has custody over them. Finally, the PREA standards ensure the inmates who are at an increased risk of sexual victimization, for example juveniles or members of the LGBTQIA+ community, are placed in safer housing and programming.

The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DOPSCS) and Rape Crisis Centers across the state work to implement the PREA standards in correctional facilities. Both confidential advocacy and reporting hotlines are available for incarcerated survivors in Maryland. For survivors who would like to report their experiences of sexual abuse while incarcerated or those who would like to make a third-party report, the Maryland PREA Reporting Hotline – 410-585-3177 – serves as the state-level reporting mechanism. Reporting to this hotline will begin an investigatory process and alert corrections staff to instances of sexual abuse. It is important to know that this is not a confidential resource. Rather, the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services manages the line and takes reports from inmates and third parties.

For survivors who are seeking confidential advocacy, the Maryland Prison Rape and Sexual Assault Help Line – 855-971-4700 – can provide survivors with confidential support, including safety planning, emotional support, and informational resources. This helpline is a free confidential resource for incarcerated survivors across the state and is not a reporting hotline. In addition to the PREA Help Line, survivors can also reach out to their local Rape Crisis Center’s 24/7 hotline. Hotline advocates provide crisis intervention services, emotional and physical safety planning, and reporting information.

All survivors of sexual violence deserve empathy and support, regardless of their incarceration status. Maryland Rape Crisis Centers and DPSCS staff work to ensure that PREA is successfully and consistently implemented, creating a culture in which sexual violence is no longer a part of the penalty. 


Maryland Prison Rape and Sexual Assault Help Line

855 - 971 - 4700



Allen J. Beck, et al, Sexual Victimization in Prisons and Jails Reported by Inmates, 2011-12 (Bureau of Justice Statistics, May 2013). Retrieved from:

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