Stop Prisoner Rape sues to protect its right to speak out on behalf of prisoners
July 19, 2002
LOS ANGELES - Stop
Prisoner Rape (SPR) is suing the Director of the Arizona Department of
Corrections over a new law that criminalizes its communication with
Arizona state prisoners and punishes prisoners if information about them
appears on its website.
The ACLU is representing SPR and two other plaintiffs in their claim that
the enforcement of Arizona’s House Bill 2376 violates their first and
fourteenth amendments and severely hampers their advocacy work on behalf
SPR along with The Canadian Coalition Against the Death Penalty (CCADP),
Citizens United for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (CUADP) seek to
invalidate a state law that bans all information about Arizona prisoners
from the internet.
SPR, a nonprofit human rights organization dedicated to ending sexual
violence against men, women, and youth in all forms of detention, posts
survivor stories, comments, and excerpts from prisoners’ letters on its
“Prisoner rape is a serious and widespread human rights abuse that is
shrouded in secrecy,” said Stemple. “The stories and information we
publish on our website lift the curtain on this abuse, letting survivors
know they are not alone, and giving the public important information about
SPR regularly sends fact sheets, survivor stories, and referrals printed
from its website to survivors who are still incarcerated. The law, which
bars prisoners from corresponding with a "communication service provider"
and disciplines prisoners if any person outside prison walls accesses a
provider or service website at a prisoner's request, would make this part
of SPR’s work illegal.
“For many prisoners, we are the only source of information about surviving
sexual assault, and we rely on the internet,” says Lara Stemple, executive
director of SPR.
“Men and women who have
been raped in prison are often too ashamed to speak out,” explains Stemple.
Because long-term consequences of prisoner rape may include post-traumatic
stress disorder, rape trauma syndrome, substance abuse, and suicide,
linking survivors to others who have lived through the experience is
Stemple insists, “SPR’s
website gives survivors a chance to connect with one another, and when you
are isolated, ashamed, and afraid, that connection can be a matter of life