PRESS RELEASES - 2006

Federal Hearing in Los Angeles on Sexual Violence in Detention

Los Angeles, December 12, 2006 – The National Prison Rape Elimination Commission, a bipartisan federal body established under the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) of 2003, will hold a public hearing in Los Angeles on December 13-14, 2006. The hearing will examine sexual violence in immigration facilities, as well as labor and personnel issues related to prisoner rape.

Stop Prisoner Rape (SPR), a national human rights organization dedicated to combating sexual violence in all forms of detention, will provide expert testimony and facilitate the participation at the hearing of two survivors of prisoner rape who were assaulted by corrections officers charged with their protection.

Mayra Soto, a transgender woman, sought asylum in the United States after suffering gender-based persecution in her home country of Mexico. In December 2003, while held at an immigration detention facility in California, an officer raped Ms. Soto. She will testify at the hearing on Wednesday that she cannot comprehend"how a federal employee who was supposed to maintain a secure environment for me while I was detained could abuse his authority in such a flagrant manner." Because Ms. Soto reported the incident and facilitated evidence collection, the officer who perpetrated the assault was investigated, prosecuted, and ultimately pleaded guilty in exchange for a sentence of six months jail time and three years probation.

"Jane Doe," currently a state inmate, was raped by a corrections officer at a California prison. She had agreed to speak before the Commission, but earlier this week she became too frightened to do so because of the attention she was receiving from prison staff and other inmates when preparing for the hearing."I fear that if my attack were made public, I would either be retaliated against or become a target of predatory corrections officers," Doe explained. In her absence, Doe’s testimony to the Commission will be read by an SPR staff member.

At the hearing’s concluding panel, SPR’s Co-Executive Director Katherine Hall-Martinez will provide additional examples of sexual misconduct by corrections officials and offer expert analysis on the safety concerns that often arise in these cases.

The two-day hearing begins at 8:45 a.m. on December 13, 2006, at the United States Courthouse, Courtroom 11, at 312 North Spring Street in Los Angeles, California. For more information about the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission, please visit www.nprec.us. For more information about SPR or to arrange an interview with a survivor of prisoner rape, please contact Amber Durfield at 213-384-1400, ext. 102 or visit www.spr.org

   

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