Congress Approves Spending Increase for Prisoner Rape Prevention
- March 22, 2018
Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., March 22, 2018 — Just Detention International (JDI) cheered the major increase in funding for the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) included in today’s House of Representatives Omnibus spending package. The bill provides $15.5 million for PREA programs — a fifty percent increase over the amount in last year’s budget. It would represent the highest total ever set aside for prisoner rape prevention. The spending bill is expected to receive approval from the Senate, before going to President Trump.
“Contrary to popular belief, there is nothing inevitable about rape in detention,” said Lovisa Stannow, Executive Director of JDI. “The spending bill will support prevention efforts that are proven to protect prisoners from sexual abuse. Congress deserves credit for recognizing that this violence demands our attention.”
The bill will inject much-needed funding into an array of programs to prevent sexual abuse and hold dangerous facilities accountable. JDI very much hopes that the bill’s passage will help re-start the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s PREA demonstration grants, a targeted program that supports deep, meaningful PREA implementation in pilot detention facilities. The increase in funding levels will also strengthen the PREA auditing system, which so far has failed to live up to its potential as an oversight tool.
JDI thanks Rep. John Culberson (R-TX), the chairman of the House Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations Subcommittee, as well as Ranking Member Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY). In the Senate, Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Ranking Member Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) also deserve recognition for their key role in pushing for a funding increase. In addition, the increase in PREA spending was supported by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in his budget request, as well as bipartisan letters throughout the appropriations process in the House and Senate led by Reps. Randy Hultgren (R-IL) and Bobby Scott (D-VA) as well as Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Brian Schatz (D-HI).
“When the government takes away a person’s freedom, it takes on an absolute responsibility to keep that person safe. Today’s bill gets us closer to the goal of eliminating this violence, once and for all,” said Stannow.
Just Detention International is a health and human rights organization that seeks to end sexual abuse in all forms of detention.