Senators Unveil Historic Bill to Help Prisoner Rape Survivors
- September 28, 2022
Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., September 28, 2022 — Today Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced the Sexual Abuse Services in Detention Act (SASIDA), a transformative piece of legislation to bring emotional support services to incarcerated survivors of sexual abuse. SASIDA would set up a grants program for community-based service providers to work directly with survivors of abuse inside detention facilities, injecting resources into an area of advocacy that has been chronically underfunded. Additionally, the bill calls for funding to train corrections officials and to create a national resource center to build the expertise of service providers and corrections officials on appropriate care for people in custody.
“SASIDA is a milestone bill that has the potential to ensure lifesaving support for incarcerated people who urgently need it,” said Linda McFarlane, Executive Director of Just Detention International. “Every year, 200,000 people are sexually abused in detention — and the overwhelming majority never receive any help. SASIDA gives us a blueprint for getting incarcerated survivors the support they need and deserve to heal.”
SASIDA’s grants programs would be a game-changer for community rape crisis centers, whose efforts to deliver services to incarcerated people have been hindered by a lack of dedicated funding. Under the program, up to $10 million would be made available annually for community service providers to deliver crisis support to people living in federal, state, and local detention facilities. Such funding would help galvanize providers nationwide, enabling them to support incarcerated survivors with processing trauma, building coping skills, and offering other basic advocacy that prison mental health staff simply do not have the capacity to give.
“SASIDA recognizes that community rape crisis centers can provide essential services for incarcerated people, but need the funding and the support to do so,” said McFarlane. “If SASIDA passes, advocates will be able to expand trauma-informed care to incarcerated people who have long suffered while isolated and alone. Senators Brian Schatz and John Cornyn have shown courage in standing up for incarcerated survivors of sexual abuse, and vision in getting help where it is needed most.”
Just Detention International is a health and human rights organization that seeks to end sexual abuse in all forms of detention.