Senators Introduce Groundbreaking Bill to Support Incarcerated Survivors
- May 4, 2023
Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., May 4, 2023 — JDI applauds Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and John Cornyn (R-TX) for reintroducing the landmark Sexual Abuse Services in Detention Act (SASIDA). The bill — which had been introduced in the Senate in September 2022, during the previous Congressional session — would lead to a dramatic increase in resources for emotional support services behind bars. Under SASIDA’s federal grant program, community-based providers would be able to apply for funding to offer critically needed help to incarcerated survivors of sexual abuse. SASIDA would also set aside resources for a national resource center, which providers and corrections officials could turn to for expert assistance in reaching people who have endured sexual abuse while in custody.
The bill’s introduction comes on the heels of several high-profile cases of prison sexual abuse. In March, Ray Garcia, the former warden of Federal Correctional Institute (FCI Dublin), was sentenced following his conviction for sexually abusing three women in his custody. Scores of other women have come forward to report being abused by FCI Dublin staff during Garcia’s tenure. Many were threatened with retaliation if they spoke out or sought help. Such abuse is not unique to the federal prison system — the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics has estimated that 200,000 people are sexually abused behind bars every year. The overwhelmingly majority of survivors do not get services.
“Senators Brian Schatz and John Cornyn deserve a world of credit for introducing this game-changing bill,” said Linda McFarlane, Executive Director of Just Detention International. “No one, no matter what, deserves to be sexually abused — and all survivors deserve compassionate support. Senators Schatz and Cornyn are showing that survivors have champions on Capitol Hill. I am hopeful that their colleagues will follow their example and help get SASIDA across the finish line.”
Just Detention International is a health and human rights organization that seeks to end sexual abuse in all forms of detention.