10,000 People Urge Attorney General to Stop the Rape of Prisoners
Thousands of Americans -- including corrections officials, prisoner rape survivors, and legal experts -- call on Attorney General to adopt measures proposed by bipartisan commission
Washington, DC, May 10, 2010. A new phase in the development of national standards addressing prisoner rape begins today, as the Department of Justice closes its 60-day public comment period on a set of standards created by the bipartisan National Prison Rape Elimination Commission. Mandated by the U.S. Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA), the Commission released its recommendations last June, referring them to the U.S. Attorney General for review and codification into binding federal regulation.
During the public comment period, some 100 prisoner rape survivors submitted comments asking Attorney General Holder to enact a strong set of standards. Dozens of supportive corrections officials, advocacy groups, and legal experts also submitted comments. Additionally, more than 10,000 individuals signed Just Detention International's petition, urging Holder to take action now. As of Monday afternoon, the Department of Justice had posted over 575 public comments online.
Under PREA, Attorney General Eric Holder has until June 23, 2010 to finalize the standards -- but Holder has told Congress that he will miss that deadline. The delay is due, in part, to opposition to the standards from some powerful corrections officials. The measures already underwent significant revision after officials criticized an earlier draft -- the standards now before the Attorney General are a compromise, balancing fiscal and security concerns of corrections officials with the right of all inmates to be free from sexual violence.
"These standards represent the bare minimum that corrections agencies must do to stop the sexual abuse that plagues U.S prisons and jails," said Lovisa Stannow, Executive Director of Just Detention International. "If fully implemented, they have the potential to prevent the rape of tens of thousands of inmates every year."
"If the standards had been in force when I was incarcerated, I might never have been assaulted," added prisoner rape survivor Kimberly Yates. "Attorney General Holder needs to move as quickly as possible to formalize them, so that others don't have to suffer as I did."
To read JDI's comments to the Attorney General, please click here.
For comments of prisoner rape survivor Kimberly Yates, click here.
To read comments from the Institute for Policy Integrity, click here.