Comments to the Department of Justice Proposed Standards, OAG – 131: National Standards to Prevent, Detect, and Respond to Prison Rape (May 2010)

Letters and Other Advocacy Documents

On May 10, 2010, the Center for HIV Law and Policy submitted these comments on the Department of Justice's (DOJ) proposed standards for the prevention, detection, and response to prison rape on behalf of HiTOPS, the African American Office of Gay Concerns, the New Jersey Parent's Caucus, Inc., the New Jersey Association on Corrections, and the Hyacinth AIDS Foundation.

The comments recommend that the national standards the DOJ is mandated to implement under the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA) proactively address the connection between comprehensive sexual health care for youth in detention facilities, including medical care and screenings, sex education, and staff training, and the elimination of abuse in these facilities. Sexual health care programs for incarcerated youth are not only legally and ethically mandated as a central part of basic medical care, they also have a real impact on reducing the occurrence and increasing the reporting of sexual assault. Because lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth are ten times more likely to be the targets of sexual abuse than heterosexual youth in these facilities, it is of particular importance that comprehensive sexual health care programs address the needs of LGBTQ youth and work to counter homophobia, transphobia, and heterosexism amongst youth and staff.

Section I of the comments addresses the need for comprehensive medical care services, including sexual health care services and access to medical care. Section II analyzes the importance of sex education programs, particularly focusing on sexuality, gender identity, and sexual orientation. Section III discusses education and training programs in order for every staff, volunteer, and medical professional to be competent on sexuality, sexual orientation, and the needs of LGBTQ youth.

PREA requires that the DOJ have a final rulemaking on these national standards, which will affect all private and public facilities for adult and juvenile offenders, as well as community corrections and temporary holding facilities. Any state that does not implement these standards will have five percent of its prison funding cut each year that these standards are not applied. The final rulemaking on the standards is expected later in 2010.