Justice Department Releases Study Of Costs, Not Benefits, Of Proposed Measures On Prisoner Rape

WASHINGTON, DC, -- On July 16, 2010, the Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs released the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Cost Impact Analysis, a report prepared for the Department by consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton. The study outlines costs estimated by corrections administrators for achieving compliance with proposed national standards drafted by the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission. The Commission released its recommendations last June, and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder recently missed his statutory deadline for enacting final standards. The development and ratification of national standards to address sexual abuse in detention was mandated by the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003.

Just Detention International releases the following statement from Executive Director Lovisa Stannow:

Strong national standards aimed at ending sexual violence behind bars are urgently needed. The Justice Department's own studies have shown that tens of thousands of prisoners, jail inmates, and juvenile detainees are sexually abused every year. The measures recommended by the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission have the potential to improve safety significantly in our nation's detention facilities.

In the recently released report, Booz Allen Hamilton only examined the cost of each proposed standard, without considering the benefits and cost-savings that would result from instituting these basic measures to improve safety and decrease sexual violence in detention. Beyond the dramatic impact on the well-being of inmates, staff, and society at large, the prevention of prisoner rape will decrease costs of litigation, grievance petitions, staff turnover, and the need for medical and mental health treatment.

Notwithstanding its focus on cost regardless of savings, the report found that the vast majority of the proposed standards are readily achievable without significant expense. Three standards -- assessment and use of monitoring technology, limits on cross-gender viewing and searches, and inmate supervision -- accounted for 99 percent of all estimated upfront costs. Through innovative practices already established at forward thinking facilities, these expenses can be minimized.

Regardless of cost, corrections and detention agencies have a moral and constitutional obligation to protect inmates in their charge. The proposed standards will greatly assist officials in upholding that duty. Attorney General Holder should adopt a robust set of standards as quickly as possible. Every day that he delays action, men, women, and children are subjected to rape behind bars.

The full report can be found at

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