Governors' compliance certification

Each year, state and territorial governors and the mayor of the District of Columbia are given the following options by the PREA statute:

  1. Submit a certification that all confinement facilities under his/her operational control (not just those audited in the most recent audit year) are in full compliance with the PREA Standards 
  2. Submit an assurance to DOJ that not less than 5% of certain DOJ grant funds will be used solely for the purpose of enabling the state to achieve and certify full compliance with the Standards in future years
  3. Submit neither and accept a 5% reduction in the impacted DOJ grant programs 

Two DOJ grant programs are subject to this statutory provision:

  1. Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program administered by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, and
  2. Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act Formula Grant Program administered by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Pursuant to a PREA amendment under the Justice for All Reauthorization Act of 2016 (Public Law 114-324), the following changes were made to the assurance option: 

  • The assurance option will sunset on December 16, 2022. Therefore, the final opportunity for governors to submit an assurance to DOJ is for Audit Year 3 of Cycle 3 (August 20, 2021 – August 19, 2022), which will affect FY 2022 DOJ grant funds. The deadline for this certification/assurance submission is October 17, 2022.
  • The PREA amendment also provides that, for two years following the assurance sunset, a governor who can certify that the state has had audits for at least 90% of facilities covered by the certification/assurance may request that the Attorney General allow submission of an emergency assurance. Therefore, following the sunset of the assurance on December 16, 2022, governors who meet the above criteria have two opportunities to submit an emergency assurance. 
    1. The first opportunity is for Audit Year 1 of Cycle 4 (August 20, 2022 – August 19, 2023), which impacts FY 2023 DOJ grant funds. The deadline for this certification or emergency assurance submission is October 16, 2023.
    2. The second and final opportunity is for audit Year 2 of Cycle 4 (August 20, 2023 – August 19, 2024), which impacts FY 2024 DOJ grant funds. The deadline for this certification or emergency assurance submission is October 15, 2024.

The 2016 amendment also included several reporting requirements for states submitting certifications and assurances, as well as additional provisions designed to enhance transparency regarding states’ ongoing work to implement the PREA Standards. Governors submitting a certification or an assurance must provide the following documentation to DOJ:

  1. A list of facilities under the state executive branch’s operational control.
  2. A list of facilities under the state executive branch’s operational control that were audited during the most recent audit year.
  3. All final audit reports for facilities under the state executive branch’s operational control that were audited during the most recent audit year.
  4. A proposed schedule for completing audits of all facilities under the state executive branch’s operational control during the following three audit years.

In addition to the above reporting requirements, governors submitting an assurance must provide the following documentation to DOJ:

  1. An explanation of any barriers the state faces to completing the required audits.
  2. An explanation of the state’s current degree of implementation of the Standards.

Additional information can be found on the Bureau of Justice Assistance PREA page

Pursuant to PREA Standard 115.501(a), governors “…shall consider the results of the most recent agency audits” when making a certification determination. Governors should be aware, however, that audits are only one piece of evidence that can be used to make a certification determination. Neither the PREA statute nor the Standards restrict the sources of information that governors may use in deciding whether to certify full compliance with the Standards. Thus, if a state has passing PREA audits but the governor is in possession of information that contradicts full compliance in those facilities, that information may impact the governor’s ability to certify full compliance with the PREA Standards. Additional information can be found in the FAQ issued by the DOJ PREA Working Group.

The PREA Management Office at DOJ receives and reviews the annual submissions by Governors and will contact the Governor’s Office if any questions arise about the certification or assurance. 

For more information about the Governor’s certification, visit the Bureau of Justice Assistance PREA page.

View the most recent DOJ letter to Governors concerning the annual certification and assurance requirement.

Visit the Bureau of Justice Assistance State PREA submissions site to see a list of Governors’ certification and assurance submissions and final audit reports for facilities that are under the operational control of state and territorial executive branches of government.