PRESS RELEASES - 2008

Just Detention International Commemorates the 20th Anniversary of World AIDS Day


December 1, 2008, Washington, DC. - Just Detention International (JDI) commemorates the 20th Anniversary of World AIDS Day, highlighting the devastating link between prisoner rape and the spread of HIV.

Keith DeBlasio is one of scores of Americans who contracted HIV as a result of being raped repeatedly in detention. “I relive those assaults in my mind every day, while my body is fighting for survival. I committed a crime and was sent to prison. Fair enough. But I didn’t deserve a death sentence.”

The link between HIV and prisoner rape constitutes both a human rights and a public health crisis. In 2004, the HIV prevalence rate inside U.S. prisons was more than four times higher that in society overall, placing survivors of sexual violence at great risk for infection.

Many prisoner rape survivors have shared with JDI that, while they were unable to avoid being sexually abused, they could have convinced their assailants to use a condom. In the U.S., only a handful of county jails, and even fewer state prison systems, provide detainees with condoms. Condom distribution is considered a basic public health measure in prisons in Canada, Western Europe, and South Africa.

In recent years, the California legislature twice passed laws to allow for condom distribution in its state prison system. The legislation was vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger, who instead ordered the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to develop a pilot condom distribution program at one men’s prison. JDI serves on the CDCR’s Task Force overseeing the pilot, which is currently being implemented at the California State Prison in Solano.

Just Detention International (JDI) is a human rights organization that seeks to end sexual abuse in all forms of detention. JDI has three core goals for its work: to ensure government accountability for prisoner rape; to transform ill-informed public attitudes about sexual violence in detention; and to promote access to resources for those who have survived this form of abuse.

Press contact: Darby Hickey, Senior Communications Associate, 202-669-3039 or dhickey@justdetention.org.