Associated Press (05.17.12) - Wednesday, May 23, 2012
The Obama administration on May 17 issued mandatory screening,
enforcement, and prevention regulations to reduce the number
of inmates sexually victimized in correctional settings.
Federal, state, and local officials must adopt a "zero
tolerance" policy on prison rape, the administration said.
The rules, which have been in development since Congress
passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003, are
immediately binding on federal prisons. States that do not
comply will face the loss of 5 percent of their Department of
Justice (DOJ) prison funds unless the governor certifies that
an equal amount is being spent to bring the state into
compliance. Organizations that accredit prisons will be barred
from receiving federal grants unless their processes include
similar anti-rape standards, meaning that noncompliant local
jails could lose their accreditation.
The president said the standards apply to all federal
confinement facilities; all other agencies with confinement
facilities - including the Homeland Security Department, which
operates immigrant detainment facilities - are required to put
anti-rape protocols in place within a year. This drew
objections from some immigration advocates, who denounced the
idea that HSD would be permitted to develop its own rules
instead of following those of DOJ.
The new regulations: stipulate that inmates be screened for
the potential of sexual victimization, and that this
information be used in assigning housing and work; require
employee background checks; and prohibit abusers from being
hired. Firing is the presumptive punishment for employees who
violate the blanket ban on sexual contact between staff and
Cross-gender pat-downs of female and juvenile inmates are
banned. Juvenile inmates must be held separately from adult
inmates; evidence must be preserved after incident reports;
anonymous and outside-prison reports of sexual victimization
are permitted; and facilities must have plans for adequate
staffing and video monitoring.