Stopping prison rape: What’s it going to take?
March 24, 2011
Prison rape is no joke, though itâ€™s been a staple of innuendo and humor about incarceration for many years. In fact, itâ€™s an epidemic that has united unlikely allies in an effort to address it, hopefully, to stop it. The U.S. Justice Departmentâ€™s statistics suggest that in 2008, more than 200,000 people were sexually assaulted, including more than 17,000 in juvenile detention â€“ that works out to almost 600 people a year, 25 an hour. And most were abused by corrections staff, not other inmates. In 2003, Congress unanimously passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act, which created a commission to study the problem and make recommendations. The Commissionâ€™s report was delivered to Attorney General Eric Holder in June 2009, and he missed the 12-month deadline to revise the recommendations and issue binding federal standards. Now those standards have been published as proposed rules, but they differ from the commissionâ€™s findings in significant ways. Joining us to discuss prison rape, the effort to end it, and the proposed federal rules are BRENDA V. SMITH, a member of the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission, professor at Washington College of Law and Principal Investigator for the National Institute of Corrections Project on Addressing Prison Rape; MELISSA ROTHSTEIN, senior program director for Just Detention International, a national advocacy group dedicated to ending prison rape; and KIMBERLY YATES, a successful Kentucky businesswoman who survived sexual assault in a federal prison in Philadelphia in 2003.