Congress passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) thirteen years ago in an intense, if short-lived, outbreak of bipartisan support for efforts to end sexual violence in our nation’s prisons, jails, community confinement centers and immigration detention centers.
We are profoundly disappointed that Gov. Abbott has neglected to make a meaningful commitment to meet the Prison Rape Elimination Act standards set by the DOJ, and we applaud the Justice Department for demanding real commitment from Texas to use grant funds to actually enforce these standards.
Q: My friend is a transgender woman in a men’s prison. Last year she was raped, and I’m afraid it’ll happen again. Why can’t she be moved to a women’s prison?
Your friend would probably be much less likely to suffer sexual assault if she was housed with other women in a woman’s facility. But unlike Laverne Cox’s character in Orange is the New Black, transgender incarcerated people in the U.S. are still usually housed according to the sex assigned at birth, instead of by gender identity. This practice makes transgender people more vulnerable to harassment or attack by staff or fellow incarcerated people. A California study found that transgender people were 13 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than non-transgender people in prison.
Q: I have a cousin who was recently picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and she’s transgender. She is planning to apply for asylum in the United States because she is afraid she will be persecuted if she is deported. I heard that there are new rules to protect transgender people in immigration detention facilities. What are they?