Senate May Pass Prison Rape Reduction Act of 2002 in Upcoming Session

August 14, 2002

WASHINGTON D.C. - The Prison Rape Reduction Act of 2002, a bill that would help end the sexual abuse of prisoners, could be passed by the Senate as soon as September.

The Senate, which held a July 31 Judiciary Committee hearing on the bill, is on recess through Sept. 3. Staffers say it is possible the bill will be passed when Congress returns from its break. Once through Congress, the act would need presidential approval to go into effect.

The Prison Rape Reduction Act of 2002 is designed to eliminate prisoner rape by authorizing a study to document the extent of the problem; and by creating a program of standards and incentives to help corrections officials detect and prevent prison rape.

Lara Stemple, executive director of Stop Prison Rape (SPR), said, "This legislation is the first serious federal attempt to deal with a human rights crisis that has been virtually ignored in this country."

"SPR has worked on this problem for over two decades, and it's satisfying to see it finally coming to the fore," Stemple said. "Prisoner rape is a serious abuse that is dehumanizing and sometimes deadly. Victims have been left beaten and bloodied, they have suffered long-term psychological harm, and they have contracted HIV."

The Prison Rape Reduction Act of 2002 is sponsored by an unique bipartisan coalition: Frank Wolf, R-Virginia, Bobby Scott, D-Virginia, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, and Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Massachusetts.

"This is something that people on both sides of the aisle can agree on," Stemple said. "Inmates who are sexually abused in prison come out more likely to re-offend. The violence that we allow inside prisons doesn't stop at the prison walls. Its aftermath reaches all of us.