Prisoner Rape Survivor Urges Congress to Help End Sexual Abuse in Detention
House Subcommittee focuses on rampant abuse of detained youth
Washington, DC, February 23, 2010. At a hearing this afternoon, prisoner rape survivor Troy Erik Isaac will urge the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security to ensure that the Department of Justice finalizes strong national standards aimed at ending sexual abuse behind bars. These standards were released on June 23, 2009 by the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission and are now bogged down in a Department of Justice review.
Isaac will be a witness at a Subcommittee hearing that was triggered by the alarming results of a Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) study released last month, "Sexual Victimization in Juvenile Facilities Reported by Youth, 2008-2009." Through surveys with juvenile detainees, the BJS found that more than 12 percent -- almost one in eight youth -- had been sexually abused in the preceding year alone. In the worst facilities, one in three youth had been victimized.
"I was raped at age 12 because I wasn't given the protection I obviously needed," Isaac explains. "Unfortunately, this report makes it painfully clear that sexual abuse of incarcerated kids remains widespread." Isaac is a member of Just Detention International's Survivor Speakers Bureau.
Isaac insists that his assaults could have been prevented had the measures required by the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission's standards been in place. The standards were developed under the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) of 2003. Subcommittee Chairman, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), who called for today's hearing, was a co-sponsor of PREA. The law gives Attorney General Eric Holder one year from June 23, 2009 to review the Commission's standards. Seven months into that process, it appears certain that he will miss his deadline, perhaps by as much as a year.
"Every day without these standards is another day in which detained youth will suffer rape, often at the hands of the very officials who are supposed to keep them safe," says Lovisa Stannow, Executive Director of Just Detention International.
For Troy Erik Isaac's testimony to the Subcommittee, click here. For Just Detention International's testimony submitted to the Subcommittee, click here.