Last summer, the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission issued a comprehensive report of its work to investigate the causes and impact of sexual assault and abuse in prison and their recommendations of ways to address and eliminate this crime. The bipartisan commission was formed as a result of the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA), which was passed unanimously by both houses of Congress. As mandated by Congress, the Commission also proposed a set of comprehensive national standards to prevent sexual abuse in all prisons, jails, and detention facilities.
The Commission heard testimony from several transgender survivors and advocates such as Esmerelda , a transgender woman who faced horrific abuse in immigration detention while seeking asylum from Mexico in 2003. (To see Esmerelda share her story, click here.) The Commission’s report and proposed national standards recognize that transgender people face an extremely high risk of sexual abuse in prisons by both staff and other inmates, and that all facilities must take specific steps to protect trans people without subjecting them to harmful isolation.
These standards were developed by a diverse group of nationally-recognized experts with input from sexual abuse survivors and their advocates, experienced corrections officials and academics. But powerful corrections industry forces are opposing the standards, saying preventing sexual assault and abuse is too expensive. The Justice Department needs to hear from people across the country, including the transgender community, who support
Our allies at Just Detention International have created a petition that makes it easy to communicate your support to Attorney General Eric Holder. Please take a moment between now and May 10 to urge the Attorney General to adopt strong national standards to prevent sexual abuse behind bars.
Update (May 11, 2010): You can now read a copy of the statement from the ACLU, National Center for Transgender Equality, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the Transgender Law Center and Lambda Legal to Attorney General Holder Regarding the National Standards to Prevent, Detect, and Respond to Prison Rape.