When the government takes away someone’s freedom, it takes on an absolute responsibility to protect that person’s safety. No matter what crime someone has committed, sexual violence must never be part of the penalty.
Contrary to popular perception, sexual abuse is not an inevitable part of prison life. Facilities with strong leadership, effective policies, and sound practices can eliminate sexual violence within their walls.
In many U.S. prisons and jails, reports of rape and other forms of sexual abuse of inmates are routinely ignored. In the worst facilities, victims are retaliated against for reporting abuse, while perpetrators -- especially those who are staff -- are able to act with impunity.
The good news is that on May 17, 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice issued national standards aimed at ending the plague of sexual violence in detention. The standards -- binding on all prisons, jails, juvenile detention facilities, community corrections facilities, and police lock-ups -- detail basic, concrete steps facilities must take to end this abuse. Crucially, the standards call for independent audits of facilities every three years, the results of which will be made publicly available.
JDI is the only organization in the world dedicated exclusively to ending sexual abuse behind bars. In the U.S. and internationally, JDI advocates for laws and policies that affirm the basic human rights of every detainee. JDI considers survivors of prisoner rape key allies and fellow advocates.