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.
Report of two recent court victories on the topic of human dignity for inmates. The report includes an account of cross-gender strip searches and quotes the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission.
Cook County Jail has instituted a policy for housing transgender detainees based on their gender identity, rather than birth sex. The seven-page policy mandates that transgender detainees be allowed to consult with a "Gender Identity Panel" of physicians and therapists before being placed into male or female housing. It also directs correctional staff to allow transgender people to wear clothing and own hygiene products consistent with their gender identity.
Human Rights Watch comments to the U.S. Department of Justice about the Prison Rape Elimination Act.
“The American Civil Liberties Union and a broad coalition of religious, political, human rights, and civil rights groups today called on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to immediately adopt a set of proposed standards aimed at eradicating sexual assault in the nation's prisons. The standards, issued over a year ago by the blue-ribbon, bipartisan National Prison Rape Elimination Commission (NPREC), would, if adopted by Holder, provide an important guide for corrections professionals to eliminate sexual abuse in their facilities and measure the effectiveness of their efforts. The coalition previously called on Holder to adopt the standards in a letter.”
2010 Human Rights Watch report states that new government data suggesting high levels of sexual abuse of confined youth in the United States should galvanize the Department of Justice to swiftly issue national standards to end prison rape.
This article reports the release of The National Prison Rape Elimination Commission 2009 Study, which affirms that more than 7.3 million people in prisons, jails, and halfway houses across the nation have "fundamental rights to safety, dignity, and justice."
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.”
Associated Press report of prison guards fired for abusing a prisoner.
This report describes disciplinary techniques adopted by the South Carolina Department of Corrections that requires inmates who masturbate publicly or who sexually assault each other or staff to wear pink jumpsuits.
This ACLU blog recounts the story of a woman who is sexually abused by a prison guard and her futile attempts to take action.