WASHINGTON – More than 64,500 state and federal prisoners and 24,000 jail detainees reported being sexually abused by another inmate or facility staff during 2008 and 2009, according to a new report released today by the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). The numbers released today virtually mirror those from the last time BJS released data on sexual abuse inside the nation’s prisons and jails in 2007.
The report was released as part of the requirements of the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003, which also resulted in the establishment of the blue-ribbon, bipartisan Prison Rape Elimination Commission (PREC). Following a comprehensive study of the issues surrounding prison rape, the commission last year proposed a set of standards aimed at eradicating sexual assault in the nation’s prisons and jails. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, however, has thus far failed to adopt the proposed standards, despite demands that he do so from a broad coalition of advocacy groups spanning the ideological spectrum.
Earlier this year, the House of Representatives introduced the Prison Abuse Remedies Act, which would eliminate barriers created by the Prison Litigation Reform Act for all prisoners seeking protection of their rights in federal court. The bill has yet to be brought up for a vote.
The following can be attributed to Margaret Winter, Associate Director of the ACLU National Prison Project:
“The numbers released today by the Bureau of Justice Statistics are further proof that rape and other forms of sexual abuse continue to be major problems in our nation’s prisons and jails and that much more needs to be done to combat these ongoing scourges. Despite recent claims by our government to the United Nations and the world that it is working hard to address these serious constitutional and human rights violations, Attorney General Holder has inexplicably failed to finalize the standards proposed by PREC. Instituting the standards would be a monumental step toward helping corrections officials eliminate sexual abuse in their facilities and it should be done immediately.”
The following can be attributed to Jennifer Bellamy, ACLU Legislative Counsel:
"This new report only underlines the need for Congress to swiftly pass the Prison Abuse Remedies Act. While this bill sits idle, thousands of prisoners face sexual abuse with little to no recourse. Congress has a duty to ensure that our nation’s prisoners are not further shackled by their lack of legal rights. There is precious little time to pass this much-needed bill before this legislative session ends. Congress cannot miss this opportunity.”