New standards are being proposed by the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission to Attorney General Eric Holder on revising the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996, an act that has been problematic for survivors for a number of reasons, one being that prisoners are required to prove "physical injury" in order to file claims against prisons. (This allows courts to say that sexual assault by itself doesn't count as an injury.)
Holder has a year to write national standards. If states don't adopt them, they can lose 5% of federal prison grant money.
While folks are confident that states will sign on, some are worried that certain county prisons won't be able to afford to implement some programs that require extra funding, like hiring additional staff specialized in mental health treatment for rape survivors. But other steps to prevent sexual assault, like closer screening of inmates and staff and zero tolerance policies, can and should be taken - particularly when sexual assault is so often committed by prison guards.
Check out Just Detention, a organization that advocates for the rights of prisoners to be free from sexual assault, for more information on rape in prison.
Posted by Vanessa - June 25, 2009,