Ours has been a daunting task, albeit a deeply motivating and compelling one—to provide the President, members of Congress, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services with national standards by which to detect, prevent, reduce, and punish prison rape.
As we submit these standards to the Attorney General for review and approval, I and my colleagues on the Commission believe that they are as urgently needed now as they were in 2003 when Congress mandated this groundbreaking project as part of the Prison Rape Elimination Act. Sexual abuse of incarcerated individuals remains a persistent problem, with life-altering consequences for victims, for the integrity of correctional institutions, and for fundamental principles of justice. We discuss the problem in great detail in our report; this standards document and its companion volumes are our blueprint for lasting nationwide change.
The standard’s development process benefited from, and indeed could not have happened without, the contributions of dozens of private and governmental organizations and more than 400 individuals—corrections professionals, academics, researchers, practitioners, and survivors of sexual abuse in confinement—who provided testimony at hearings, advice at expert committee and stakeholder meetings, and input during an extensive public comment period. In finalizing these standards and incorporating their expertise, our discussions have been long and lively and our debates rigorous. We are particularly grateful for the insights and lessons learned from early reformers—corrections professionals who have been working to prevent sexual abuse in their facilities since long before the passage of the Prison Rape Elimination Act and who continue to do so.
Each set of standards has been customized to ensure validity for particular conditions of confinement. The members of the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission are confident that the implementation of these national standards can have a substantial and salutary effect on the safety of prisons, jails, lockups, immigration detention centers, juvenile detention facilities, and community correctional facilities.
We are proud to entrust the enactment and implementation of these standards to the many capable policymakers and professionals who will now take up the torch. It has been an honor for us to play a part in the elimination of sexual abuse in confinement. A just and civil society should strive for nothing less.
The Honorable Reggie B. Walton, Chair