Thursday, March 31, 2011

Final Public Comment Period for New Standards to Address Prisoner Rape Ends Soon

(I'm hoping Cara won't mind me copying her title.)

As the title says your chance to chime in on the new standards to address prison rape and abuse is ending soon.

If you don't know a new set of standards are supposed to be coming into play that are meant to address these issues. However they are sorely lacking. The organization Just Detention International has a site up with some of the talking points that need to be discussed:
The standards must be properly enforced through independent oversight.
No matter how strong the final standards are, they will be meaningless if they don’t require that detention facilities be subjected to independent, external oversight. The Department of Justice proposes allowing corrections agencies to use an internal employee for measuring compliance with the standards. With rampant sexual abuse in prisons and jails across the country, we can no longer rely on corrections facilities to police themselves. Tell the Department to require that independent agencies be responsible for monitoring compliance with the standards.

The national standards must apply to immigration detention facilities.
All people behind bars have basic human rights. No person, no matter the reason for his/her detention, should be subjected to sexual abuse. People in immigration detention are exceptionally vulnerable to rape. In its own report, the Department of Justice writes, “Protection from sexual abuse should not depend on where an individual is incarcerated: it must be universal.” Urge the Department to uphold this value by making the standards binding on immigration detention facilities, as well as prisons and jails.

(You can view the full list at Just Detention International's site.)

Also notice that along with that talking points is a link to a place where you can submit a letter (by the way the submission page seems to have a 2000 character limit) and even has a sample letter that you can use, which of course you are free to modify or replace entirely with your exact words.

Abuse of prisoners is a serious problem in this nation (and bear in mind that the US has one of the largest prison populations in the world). This is a golden opportunity to have your say on the matter.