On May 17, 2012 the same day the DOJ released its standards, President Obama issued a memo explicitly specifying that “all agencies with Federal confinement facilities that are not already subject to the Department of Justice’s final [PREA] rule to work with the Attorney General [are required] to propose, within 120 days of the date of this memorandum, any rules or procedures necessary to satisfy the requirements of PREA.”
David Person wrote his reactions to the PREA standards and the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) Sexual Victimization In Prisons And Jails Reported By Inmates, 2008-09.
When I first heard that Crishaun “CeCe” McDonald—the 24-year-old black transwoman prosecuted for surviving a white supremacist and transphobic assault—would be housed as a man at the Minnesota state prison at St. Cloud, I felt panicked and pissed. “The message that CeCe’s been really clear about is that there is really no safe place for her within the Department of Corrections,” says Burgess. “The wording around whether or not transfolks should have some say in where they’re placed is weak. We may be able to use PREA rules to give individuals more voice in the process, but it’s too early to tell.”
Senator Dick Durbin issued the following statement on the final PREA Standards on the floor of the United States Senate.
Report of how Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Lamar Smith (R-Texas) presided over a hearing called “Holiday on ICE” to mock the Obama administration’s plans to improve immigration detention conditions. The report details appalling conditions of immigration detention and concludes with appeal for reform.
In this editorial, a corrections official takes note of a recent incident in which a prison guard at Riker’s Island Jail New York was disciplined for inappropriate conduct. The author notes that this type of behavior is distressingly common in correctional facilities. Sexual misconduct among corrections staff often occurs because of power imbalances. Staff-offender relationships cause great harm to the corrections profession, and compromise the integrity of the entire prison system. The vast majority of prison staff conduct themselves in a professional manner, but a few bad apples do a great deal of damage.
The ACLU reports that a New York Times editorial highlighted an increasingly poorly kept but still disturbing secret: the hundreds of thousands of immigration detainees caught in the far-reaching web of the nation’s punitive and inhumane immigration detention system are at grave risk of being sexually assaulted and abused.
In 2011, the media was abuzz with the allegations of sexual assault by Jerry Sandusky, Penn State’s former assistant football coach. Onlookers reacted with appropriate disgust — including our president, who called the case “heartbreaking.” President Obama pointed out that what matters most is not the institution, but our immediate need to protect the vulnerable children directly impacted by Sandusky’s alleged actions. As this piece from New America Media smartly points out, there’s another highly vulnerable population being tormented by incidents of alleged sexual assault across the country, one that the administration has thus far failed to protect: detainees in custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Every year for at least the last four years, an officer, guard, or other employee at an immigration detention center in Texas has been criminally prosecuted for sexually assaulting an immigration detainee. Every time, the government issues a press release about the prosecution and trumpets its efforts to protect detainees and punish bad actors — the implication being that sexual assault in detention is limited in scope and due merely to the actions of a few bad actors. But it isn't.
Blog post asserting that “prison rape reaches far beyond the concrete and barbed-wiring of American prisons. It is rooted in overcrowded prisons, where ineffectual staff participate in a prison culture that values only power obtained through violence. First-time offenders are the most likely to victimized, initiating them into a pattern of violence and psychopathology that they carry back with them upon release. Medical, mental health, and recidivism costs related to prison rape burden the American taxpayers. HIV, AIDS, and other sexually transmitted diseases spread from within the prison walls to the outside world. The practice adds an extra, hidden punishment to the sentences of the most vulnerable criminals, undermining the validity of our justice system.” The author ultimately concludes that “we must move beyond the simple numbers game of the Prison Rape Elimination Act and take a serious look at the values that inform our ideas about crime and rehabilitation.”
This ACLU blog recounts the story of a woman who is sexually abused by a prison guard and her futile attempts to take action.