House Spending Bill Proposes Record Levels of Funding to Stop Prisoner Rape
- June 30, 2017
Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., June 30, 2017 — JDI applauds the House Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) Appropriations Subcommittee for approving a spending bill that includes $15.5 million for vital prisoner rape prevention efforts in Fiscal Year 2018 — a 50 percent increase over the previous year. The bill, which was released yesterday and quickly approved by the Subcommittee today, would go a long way toward providing the necessary resources for corrections agencies to implement the groundbreaking Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) standards.
“The CJS Subcommittee, and especially Chairman John Culberson (R-TX) and Ranking Member Jose Serrano (D-NY), deserves a huge amount of credit for proposing to boost funding for PREA,” said Lovisa Stannow, Just Detention International’s Executive Director. “Sexual abuse thrives in U.S. detention facilities, but it does not have to. By funding PREA implementation, the bill would take us a step closer to ending this human rights crisis.”
The proposed $15.5 million represents the highest funding total for PREA programs since the standards were finalized, in 2012. It also equals the amount requested by the Department of Justice in its budget request. Along with helping state and local corrections agencies adopt the PREA standards, the spending bill would fund national prisoner surveys and strengthen the PREA audit process, which is patchy and has not lived up to its potential as an oversight mechanism. Currently, 19 states have certified full implementation of the PREA standards and another 29 states have provided the Department of Justice with assurances that they are actively working to certify compliance.
The spending bill is expected to be approved by the full House Appropriations Committee in July when the Senate is also expected to release its proposed funding levels for PREA.
In addition to the committee’s leadership, Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-IL) and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), who led a joint appropriations request that garnered 40 signatures from members of Congress, also helped ensure this victory. A number of other Republican and Democratic Congressional champions, like Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL), also deserve praise for their longstanding support of PREA.
“JDI and our allies, including Prison Fellowship, have been pressing Congress to devote more funding to address sexual abuse behind bars. This bipartisan show of support is yet more proof that stopping prisoner rape is one of the few issues that unites elected leaders from both sides of the aisle. We hope that the Senate CJS Appropriations Subcommittee will join its House counterpart in supporting an increase for crucial PREA funding,” said Stannow.
Just Detention International is a health and human rights organization that seeks to end sexual abuse in all forms of detention.