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JDI Applauds the Passage of the First Step Act in the House

  • May 22, 2018

Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., May 22, 2018 — In a move cheered by Just Detention International, the House of Representatives passed the First Step Act — a criminal justice reform bill that includes key provisions to protect prisoners from sexual abuse. JDI urges the Senate to bring the First Step Act to a vote without delay.

The First Step Act addresses serious weaknesses in the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) audit system. Since 2013, when these audits began, many prisons and jails that are known to be rife with sexual abuse have been found PREA compliant — a staggering failure in oversight that has put lives at risk. The First Step Act brings stricter scrutiny to the audits, including clear guidelines for performing these assessments and a more transparent process for decertifying unscrupulous auditors.

“PREA offers us a roadmap for ending the crisis of rape behind bars — but the flawed audits are preventing PREA from achieving its full potential as a human rights tool,” said Lovisa Stannow, JDI’s Executive Director. “Congress deserves credit for taking meaningful action to make our prisons and jails safer.”

The bill passed 360-59 and, consistent with prior legislation that addresses prisoner rape, received strong bipartisan support. JDI thanks Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), who sponsored the bill; Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), who was one of PREA’s original sponsors, and Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), who also played a crucial role in the bill’s passage.


Just Detention International is a health and human rights organization that seeks to end sexual abuse in all forms of detention.