PRESS RELEASES - 2008

Stop Prisoner Rape Opens Washington, D.C. Office

Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., March 12, 2008. Stop Prisoner Rape (SPR), an international human rights organization based in Los Angeles, is pleased to announce the opening of its Washington, D.C. office.

SPR is the only organization in the U.S. focusing exclusively on the problem of sexual violence in detention. Whether perpetrated by corrections officials or by inmates with the acquiescence of staff, sexual abuse of detainees constitutes torture under international human rights law, violates domestic criminal law, and is a breach of the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The focus of SPR’s mission is to hold government agencies accountable for failures to protect the safety of detainees. As part of that effort, SPR helps to draft and promote relevant state and federal legislation, and offers expert analysis, training, and survivor testimony to policymakers and corrections officials at the federal, state, and local levels.

SPR was instrumental in securing passage of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) of 2003, the first piece of federal legislation addressing sexual abuse in detention. Since then, the organization has led the call for the law’s meaningful implementation. SPR’s new Washington, D.C. office will focus much of its attention on that work. In addition, the new office will increase SPR’s participation in an initiative to amend the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) of 1996, a federal law that was intended to limit frivolous lawsuits by prisoners, but instead has become a major impediment for inmates seeking redress after a sexual assault.

“In recent years, SPR has helped to bring the problem of rape in detention firmly into the public debate, highlighting the fact that this type of violence is both preventable and unlawful,” said Lovisa Stannow, SPR’s Executive Director. “With a presence in Washington, D.C., we will be able to maximize our effort to protect the inalienable right of detainees to be free from sexual abuse.”

Melissa Rothstein, SPR’s former Program Development Director, is the organization’s new East Coast Program Director. Ms Rothstein is a graduate of Columbia Law School and Columbia University School of Social Work. She previously served as a Pro Se Law Clerk in the Second Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals, and as an attorney and social worker at an appellate public defender office in New York City.

Contact Information:
Stop Prisoner Rape
1025 Vermont Ave. NW, 3rd Floor
Washington, D.C. 20005
Tel: 202-580-6971