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No Icon VIDEOs-Study on Rapes in US Prisons>Laws Not Working

A Look at the Problem of Rape in US Prisons

By AP, 4 January 2015


Inmate advocates worry that a proposal to reduce the financial penalties for states that don't comply with a 2003 federal law aimed at eliminating rape behind bars will severally damage it.

The measure failed this fall. Its sponsor, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, vows to re-introduce it in the new GOP-controlled Congress.


Cornyn said the funds include grants for worthy programs such as ones that support rape and domestic violence victims and that the law should be more narrowly tailored to affect money that goes to prison construction, operations and administration.

Supporters of the measure acknowledge the change would essentially eliminate the financial penalties, since little if any federal grant money is used for prison construction, daily operations and administration.
Those costs are typically handled by local government budgets.

A LONG-IGNORED PROBLEM: PRISON RAPE


Inmate advocates had lobbied for years for policymakers and lawmakers to address the problem of prison rape. Federal statistics show about 216,000 adult and juvenile inmates are sexually assaulted each year, compared to 238,000 in the overall U.S.

More than half of all sexual assaults behind bars are committed by prison staffers, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, and more than half of those employee-on-inmate assaults are committed by women.
Among the most vulnerable populations are the mentally ill, juveniles and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender inmates.

ATTITUDES BEGIN TO CHANGE IN THE 1990s

By the mid-1990s, more than half of the states passed laws defining staff-on-inmate sexual misconduct as a criminal offense.
And in 1994, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that federal prison officials in Terre Haute, Indiana, failed to take reasonable measures to protect a transgender woman who was repeatedly raped after she was sent to live with the general male population.

A UNANIMOUS VICTORY


Prison rape survivors, inmate advocacy groups and evangelical organizations lobbied Congress to pass a law that aimed to end sexual assault behind bars. In 2003, Congress unanimously passed it.
The law's requirements ranged from increased training of staff about sex abuse policies to screening new inmates to determine if they're likely to commit sexual assault or to be assaulted.
If states opt out of the law or don't comply, they stand to lose 5 percent of federal funds they get for prison operations.

$110 MILLION, AND CHANGE


In all, states have spent more than $110 million in state and federal funds to implement the law. By last fall, every state was supposed to certify that it had instituted dozens of the standards.
So far, New Jersey and New Hampshire say they are compliant with the law's requirements, and 43 states and the District of Columbia are working toward that goal. All states have made some improvements to follow the law.
Pennsylvania developed a web-based incident reporting program, and is working to improve prosecution strategies to ensure that rapists are brought to justice. Colorado and Oregon, for example, are using software to help track sexual assault reports.

SOME STATES OPT OUT, CITING COST, AUTONOMY

Texas, Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Nebraska, Utah and Idaho have opted out, arguing that it's too costly to implement requirements that they say don't give them the flexibility to administer their facilities the way they see fit.
Texas, for example, says a requirement to prevent guards from seeing inmates of the opposite sex naked in the showers or during strip searches wouldn't work because 40 percent of the correctional officer workforce is female.

TOO EARLY TO SAY IF LAW IS WORKING

Federal surveys show the nation's rate of sexual victimization behind bars has remained steady for at least 7 years, with nearly 1 in 10 adult inmates reporting attacks. The rate is the same for juveniles, although that has improved slightly since 2008.

MORE:

Concerns Rise over US Anti-Prison Rape Law's Fate
-Abusers are Sometimes The Guards


January 4, 2015, By REBECCA BOONE, Associated Press

When Congress passed a law in 2003 aimed at ending sexual assault in U.S. prisons, jails and juvenile detention centers, survivors like Jan Lastocy were hopeful that it would help solve the long-ignored problem.
Lastocy and a coalition of inmate advocacy groups and evangelical groups had worked for years to convince policymakers and corrections officials that rape behind bars shouldn't be accepted, even if the public had little sympathy for its victims.

"I felt vindicated because I had been fighting so hard, and for so long, to bring attention to this issue and get justice for myself and for all survivors," said Lastocy, who was repeatedly raped by a guard while serving time for embezzlement.



Now, some advocates worry that a proposal to reduce the law's financial penalties will severely damage it. The measure failed last fall, but its sponsor, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, vows to re-introduce it in the new GOP-controlled Congress.
Cornyn said the funds include grants for worthy programs, such as ones that support rape and domestic violence victims. He said the law should be more narrowly tailored to affect money for prison construction, operations and administration.
The proposal has put some prison rape survivors on the opposite side of those who survived sexual assault on the outside.

Nearly two dozen organizations, including prison industry groups and the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, have lauded Cornyn's efforts, and say they trust prison officials to work vigorously at reducing rapes even without financial penalties.

"There's no desire to do anything less than help victims," said Rebecca O'Connor, RAINN's vice president of public policy, adding that her organization just wants to make sure the law is applied in a way that doesn't harm existing programs.
Advocates say the measure is the latest sign that the law's implementation is too slow.
Federal statistics show about 216,000 adult and juvenile inmates are sexually assaulted each year, compared to 238,000 people living outside of correction facilities in the U.S.

Allen Beck, a statistician with the U.S. Department of Justice who researches the incidence of prison rape, said the biggest indicator of prisoner sexual assault is the culture of the facility, not the number of inmates or security cameras.

"Really it's about how the facilities are managed, in terms of institutional culture," Beck said.


When Lastocy stepped into Camp Branch, a minimum security women's prison in Michigan, in 1998, she was facing as much as 10 years in prison for attempting to embezzle several thousand dollars from her employer, ABO Security.
As she adjusted to the discovery after her arrest that she had bipolar disorder, rape quickly became a fact of life.

Like many prison rape survivors, she feared that the guard who raped her could extend her prison stay by writing her false tickets for breaking prison rules if she reported him. He was later convicted of sexually assaulting several inmates, including Lastocy.

When she learned that she may have been his first victim, she felt guilt for not speaking up, said Lastocy, who now is an advocate for prison rape survivors.

The passage of the law, however, gave her hope that there would be fewer victims. But like other advocates, she's been frustrated by the pace of change at correctional institutions throughout the country.
So far, seven states have opted out of the law, and stand to lose 5 percent in federal money that goes toward prisons. Two states New Jersey and New Hampshire say they are in compliance, and 41 others are working to meet the law's requirements.

The law's backers say Cornyn's proposal would essentially gut the penalty because little, if any, federal grant money actually goes toward prison administration, operations and constructions. Those are funded by state and local governments.

To take the provision out "would totally obliterate the incentive states have to comply with" the law, said U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton, the chairman of the former National Prison Rape Elimination Commission.
The commission developed the law's requirements, which range from increased training of staff about sex abuse policies to screening new inmates to determine if they're likely to commit sexual assault or to be assaulted.

In Texas, which has six facilities among those nationally with the highest prevalence rate of sexual assaults, officials used nearly $2.6 million in federal money to install extra cameras in some facilities and develop a sexual assault awareness curriculum.
The state has since opted out, and faces an $800,000 loss in federal funding.

Jason Clark, a corrections spokesman, said a requirement to prevent guards from seeing inmates of the opposite sex naked in the showers or during strip searches wouldn't work because 40 percent of the correctional officer workforce is female.

Many states have trained staffers and educated inmates about how to spot and report sexual assault.

Addressing sexual assault and caring for victims "decreases the likelihood of an offender becoming a victim again and committing a violent act once he or she returns to the community," said Norah West, Washington state's corrections spokeswoman.


For Lastocy, the trauma didn't end when she left prison. She still has nightmares, 15 years later.
"As much as I despise him, I don't even wish my rapist would be raped while he is in prison, because nobody deserves it," she said.



WARNING- DISTRESSING VIDEOs

Real Prison Rape - Memoir of a Boy in a Man's Prison.



No Escape: Prison Rape in America - The Rules of the Game: Prison Rape and Reform



White Inmates Getting Raped In U.S. Prisons



PRISON RAPE-AMERICAS MOST NEGLECTED HUMAN RIGHTS CRISIS. = Rapist Talks



It Happens in Many Prisons in The World

Prison Rape | Breaking The Law

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