Audit Database Adds Transparency to State Efforts to End Prisoner Rape
- January 5, 2018
Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., January 5, 2018 — JDI applauds the Department of Justice’s launch of the first-ever database of audit reports that assess U.S. detention facilities’ progress toward ending prisoner rape. Published by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the new website represents a major victory for JDI and fellow advocates, who have long pushed for the creation of this audit clearinghouse.
“The public should have easy access to information about what prisons are doing to stop a crime as devastating, and preventable, as rape behind bars,” said Lovisa Stannow, Executive Director of Just Detention International. “The Department of Justice’s new tool will allow advocates to track what corrections officials are doing to keep the people in their care safe from sexual violence.”
Under the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) standards, U.S. detention facilities must be audited every three years on their compliance with these rules. Even though corrections agencies are supposed to publish their audit reports, the lack of a centralized database made it virtually impossible to monitor progress and detect trends across states. In response to JDI’s advocacy, Congress added a provision mandating an audit clearinghouse to the Justice For All Reauthorization Act, which was signed into law in December, 2016. The audit database contains the audit reports of detention facilities under the operational control of state governors. Only reports in the first three-year audit cycle, which spans from 2013-2016, are included.
To date, the database holds more than 1,200 audit reports of state-run corrections facilities, the majority of which are state prisons. Alarmingly, more than 500 facilities that should have been audited either have not conducted their assessments or simply have not made their reports available. Prior to the clearinghouse’s launch, JDI found evidence that some auditors were giving passing marks to unsafe facilities that clearly were not compliant with the standards.
“We have seen evidence suggesting that the audit process is turning into a rubber stamp for dangerous facilities. Now, thanks to this new tool, we will be able to dig a bit deeper and hold bad prisons — and bad auditors — accountable,” said Stannow.
Just Detention International is a health and human rights organization that seeks to end sexual abuse in all forms of detention.