PRESS RELEASES - 2008

Welcome, Just Detention International

Stop Prisoner Rape changes name to reflect breadth of work to end sexual violence behind bars

September 4, 2008, Los Angeles, CA. Marking the fifth anniversary of the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act, non-profit organization Stop Prisoner Rape announces its new name: Just Detention International. The following is a statement from executive director Lovisa Stannow:

“Hundreds of thousands of people have been raped in U.S. detention facilities, and many were prisoners when the assaults occurred. Countless others, however, have endured different forms of sexual abuse. Many were victimized not in prisons, but in jails, immigration detention, juvenile facilities, or police lock-ups.

“The name Just Detention International makes clear that we are fighting for their rights, too. While our name is changing, our mission will remain the same – to end sexual abuse in all forms of detention.

“Our new name also captures better the basic principles that inspire our work. Simply put, when the government removes someone’s liberty, it incurs the absolute responsibility to protect that person’s safety. Incarceration must be just. Rape and other forms of sexual abuse must never be part of the penalty.

“Just Detention International is the only organization in the U.S. working exclusively to end sexual abuse behind bars. We will continue to focus much of our attention on American detention facilities. But recognizing that sexual violence is a global problem, we will also expand our international program. Our South Africa initiative is already stimulating real change in prisons plagued by sexual abuse. We are working with government officials and human rights advocates to make Mexican prisons and jails safer. And we are exploring a unique chance to address sexual abuse in detention in the Philippines.

“The reason we do this work is simple: sexual violence behind bars is torture. It’s a perversion of justice and an affront to our society’s core values. It shatters the lives of thousands of people every year, and it hurts the rest of us as well, by spreading violence and disease far beyond the prison walls.

“Sexual violence in detention is preventable. It doesn’t have to be part of prison life. Every day, Just Detention International hears from inmates who have endured shocking abuses. Their experiences show clearly that it is a lack of political will, poor detention policies, and bad management that allow rape and other forms of sexual abuse to flourish.”