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Prison Reform through Federal Legislative Intervention: The Case of the Prison Rape Elimination Act

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice Policy Review Volume: 22 Issue: 1 Dated: March 2011 Pages: 111-128
Robert A. Schuhmann; Eric J. Wodahl
Date Published
March 2011
18 pages
This article explores the lessons learned from the Prison Rape Elimination Act's (PREA's) success.
Inmates have long been considered one of the most politically disenfranchised groups in the United States. Not surprisingly, the well-being of the incarcerated has rarely been considered a high priority for Federal policymakers. The passage of the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA), however, reveals that reform through traditional policymaking channels is attainable. The passage of PREA has provided reformers with more than optimism. It provides a roadmap for future efforts to transform prison conditions through legislative intervention. This manuscript explores the lessons learned from PREA's success by identifying the traditional barriers to federal legislative prison reform and examining how PREA was able to navigate these obstacles and secure passage without a single "no" vote in the U.S. Congress. Special attention is given to the important role of evangelicals in the passage of this legislation. (Published Abstract)