PRESS RELEASES - 2007

Stop Prisoner Rape Welcomes Passage of Texas Prisoner Rape Legislation

LOS ANGELES, MAY 22, 2007 - The Texas legislature passed a bill yesterday addressing one of the state's most neglected human rights violations - prisoner rape.

Senate Bill 1175 (SB 1175) establishes critically-needed external oversight of Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) facilities by creating a sexual assault ombudsperson. The ombudsperson is independent of the TDCJ and is mandated to supervise administrative sexual assault investigations. Such independent monitoring is vital to ensuring that sexual abuse is dealt with appropriately. The bill also eliminates the TDCJ's troubling 15-day deadline for filing a grievance after a sexual assault. Stop Prisoner Rape (SPR) has long opposed such a narrow window for filing a formal complaint.

"SPR is encouraged that Texas lawmakers have taken decisive action to address the problem of prisoner rape in TDCJ facilities," said SPR's Co-Executive Director Lovisa Stannow. "We urge Governor Perry to take the final step and sign this bill into law."

As one of the key supporters of this legislation, SPR brought experts and survivors of prisoner rape to testify before the Texas House Committee on Corrections and the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice. If the bill is signed, Texas will be only the second state - after California - with a law specifically addressing sexual assault in prison.

For more information please contact Amber Durfield at 213.384.1400 x 102 or adurfield@spr.org.