Since Congress passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) in 2003, the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission (NPREC) has been conducting a study on the causes and consequences of prison rape. In June of 2009, the NPREC released its findings from the 6-year research program. The Justice Department has been slow to act and as many have argued, failed to respond appropriately. “Although the Justice Department has adopted many of the standards the commission proposed, and even strengthened some, a number of the proposed standards constitute an unjustified step backward,” Human Rights Watch said. Human Rights Watch brought up several arguments regarding a lack of response from the Justice Department in areas that need strong regulation. Among their biggest concerns were the complete lack of applying standards to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities as well as failing to stop cross-gender pat downs, not guaranteeing necessary staffing, not requiring independent periodic audits, and failing to understand the significance of sexual abuse. Currently there is very little assistance to victims and just as little regulation for those doing the sexual abuse. “Congress knew that eliminating prison rape might require changing the way prison and jails are run, perhaps even spending more,” said Jamie Fellner, Senior Advisor with HRW. The poor response of the Justice Department is coming at an expensive price.
“US: Improve Weak Standards to End Prison Rape” Human Rights Watch, April 2011
“Little and late; Efforts to stop the sexual abuse of prisoners are welcome but overdue” The Economist, May 2011
“The Justice Department has a way to go on ending prison rape” The Washington Post, January 2011
Student Researchers: Matt Coffin, Nick Strautman, Currin McCarty
Faculty Advisor: Kevin Howley
Evaluator: Keith Nightenhelser