PRESS RELEASES - 2007

National Prisoner Rape Hearing in Texas

Contact:
Amber Durfield: adurfield@spr.org, 213-384-1400 ext. 102
Lovisa Stannow: 213-384-1400, ext. 103 or 310-617-4350 (cell # while in Austin)

LOS ANGELES, March 26, 2007 – 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 Austin, Texas, on March 26-27, 2007. The first part of the hearing will focus on sexual violence in police lock-ups and in Native American facilities. On the second day, the focus will be on Texas, including recent allegations of rampant sexual abuse in Texas youth facilities.

Stop Prisoner Rape (SPR), a national human rights organization dedicated to combating sexual violence in all forms of detention, will bring first-hand accounts of abuse in detention to the hearing.

Erica Hejnar will speak about the harrowing abuse she suffered at a Philadelphia police station, where an officer demanded that she engage in sexual acts with her friend. The two women were never formally processed or charged with a crime. Three years passed before the officer’s conduct was seriously investigated. “I knew that he was still working in the same position,” Ms. Hejnar recounts. “I feared that he was continuing to sexually abuse other innocent women on the streets and at the police station.” 

Genger Galloway will testify about the abuse her son Joseph endured as a teenager in a Texas juvenile facility. While there, one officer sexually assaulted him and another officer forced him into a cell where he was beaten and raped by an older inmate. Upon learning of the abuse, a case worker at the facility told Joseph and Ms. Galloway that the facility would “handle this internally, our own way.”

John Doe” will talk about the rape of his fiancée, who remains incarcerated in a Texas prison. He is not disclosing his identity because of fear for the safety of his fiancée.

In the past month, widespread complaints of sexual abuse of youth at the hands of staff at Texas Youth Commission facilities have come to light. Children and young adults have lodged more than 750 allegations of sexual violence since 2000 alone. According to Kathy Hall-Martinez, Co-Executive Director of SPR, “We have long known that sexual abuse was a serious problem in Texas’ detention facilities. With the emergence of the Texas Youth Commission scandal, this crisis can no longer be ignored.”

The two-day hearing begins at 9:00 a.m. on March 26, 2007, at the Moot Courtroom, University of Texas Law School, Austin, Texas. For more information about the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission, please visit www.nprec.us.