Press Release: New Federal Report: Oversight and Staff Training Lead to Safe Prisons and Jails
Media Contact: Jesse Lerner-Kinglake
April 15, 2012. Just Detention International applauds a new report by the Department of Justice’s Review Panel on Prison Rape, which concludes that prisons and jails that are able to keep inmates safe from sexual abuse have well-trained staff, committed leaders, and strong oversight.
Conversely, facilities with unsafe practices and little or no monitoring are rife with abuse. The report summarizes the findings from the Review Panel’s 2011 hearings on U.S. prisons and jails with especially high and low rates of sexual victimization.
“This report reinforces what advocates have been saying for years -- that rape is not an inevitable consequence of incarceration,” said Lovisa Stannow, JDI’s Executive Director. “The Review Panel has done an excellent job of highlighting policies and practices that result in low levels of abuse. The Panel also rightfully details the abject failure of some facilities to protect the inmates in their care.”
JDI receives scores of letters from survivors of prisoner rape in the country’s worst facilities -- men and women who were subjected to horrific abuse. A survivor of repeated rapes at the Allred Unit, a Texas state prison that ranks as one of the country’s most troubled facilities, wrote:
I am tired of the abuse, the mistreatment, the denial of mental and medical help, and the pain. I can't take it anymore -- it's killing me. I have filed grievances to no avail. All the perpetrators remain in the general population. They have raped and extorted me, but have not been charged nor punished.
An inmate at Orleans Parish Prison who was gang raped by other detainees over a period of two months wrote:
Not only did the guards sit by and do nothing while I was being raped on a regular basis, they made it even worse by not helping me when I complained and not providing me with basic health care after the rapes. I feel as if I was treated as less than human.
Earlier this week, Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman closed the infamous House of Detention, a move made partly in response to the release of the Review Panel’s report.
The Review Panel identified several areas where more information is needed to end sexual abuse, such as: ways to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender inmates; factors that make inmates with a prior history of sexual abuse more vulnerable; distinctive needs of female prisoners; and methods for holding perpetrators of rape accountable.
JDI stands ready to work with the Review Panel on gathering this information, and calls on Attorney General Eric Holder to continue his Department’s work to end sexual abuse in detention by finalizing the national standards mandated by the Prison Rape Elimination Act.