Preventing and addressing prison rape

Current Thinking

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In June 2009, the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission (NPREC) released its final Report and Standards. (Read more about Vera’s role in assisting NPREC.) The U.S. attorney general was expected to review NPREC’s work and, by June, adopt national standards for preventing and reseponding to sexual assault in confinement. But even though Attorney General Eric Holder and his staff have been examining NPREC’s recommendations and listening to feedback from the field for months now, it will still be some time before those standards are adopted.

On Monday, the New York Times ran an editorial calling on Holder to follow NPREC’s recommendations and pass strong standards quickly. The editorial expressed concern about the delay, pointing out that at least 60,000 prisoners have been victims of sexual assault in the past year. It also expressed concern about the possibility that NPREC’s recommendations and standards might be weakened by pushback from the corrections field.

Those of us who worked on this project remain committed to helping the attorney general move on NPREC’s recommendations and seeing a strong set of standards passed. While working with NPREC, we learned a great deal about proven strategies for keeping prisoners safe from sexual assault, and we believe that adopting NPREC’s standards would go a long way toward ensuring that these strategies become common practice. Attorney General Holder has expressed a similar commitment and I, for one, remain hopeful that it will be fulfilled.

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