PRESS RELEASES - 2008

New York City Department of Correction Must Take Responsibility for Sexual Abuse


WASHINGTON, DC, Oct. 29, 2008. Just Detention International (JDI), an international human rights organization, calls on the New York City Department of Correction (DOC) to comply with the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) by participating in a public hearing addressing rampant sexual violence at Rose M. Singer Center (RMSC), a women's jail at Rikers Island.

In a recent Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) report, RMSC was ranked as having one of the highest rates of sexual abuse among U.S. jails. The report was based on a BJS survey with detainees at county jails nationwide about their experiences with sexual victimization. The Department of Justice Review Panel on Prison Rape is mandated under PREA to hold public hearings with the jails found to have the nation's highest and lowest rates of sexual abuse. So far, the New York City Department of Correction is the only corrections system that has refused to appear before the Review Panel on Prison Rape.

While the BJS estimated that approximately three percent of jail detainees nationwide had been sexually victimized in the previous six months, the rate at RMSC was more than seven percent. Based on these results, the Review Panel on Prison Rape scheduled a public hearing for September 25th, 2008, but RMSC officials refused to cooperate.

“The only way to eliminate sexual violence behind bars is to examine the factors that underlie the problem and to hold accountable officials who fail to take serious steps to prevent and respond to this egregious type of abuse," said Lovisa Stannow, Executive Director of JDI. "The DOC's refusal to appear before the Review Panel on Prison Rape sends a dangerous signal to jail officials and detainees that sexual violence is not taken seriously."

Just Detention International (JDI), formerly known as Stop Prisoner Rape (SPR), is the only organization in the U.S. dedicated exclusively to eliminating sexual abuse in all forms of detention. JDI was instrumental in securing passage of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA).

For a copy of the For a copy of the BJS report, "Sexual Victimization in Local Jails  Reported by Inmates, 2007,” please go to http://www.ojp.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/svljri07.pdf

For more information, please call JDI’s East Coast Program Director
Melissa Rothstein, at 202-580-6971 or 718-873-4036 (cell).