Lambda Legal Welcomes Strengthened Commitment From Texas Governor to Comply With PREA

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June 12, 2015
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Demoya Gordon, Lambda Legal Regional and Transgender Rights Project Adviser

On Thursday, June 11th, Lambda Legal learned that the Department of Justice had accepted a new letter from Texas Governor Gregory Abbott certifying that Texas would take a more serious approach to implementing the standards of the Prison Rape Elimination Act.

Dated May 28th, much of the letter’s message remains the same as the Governor’s May 15th letter, with the addition of language that promises that Texas “will use not less than 5 percent of our PREA funds to enable the state to work toward full compliance with the DOJ’s PREA standards wherever feasible.” This differs from the Governor’s previous letter, which stated only that Texas would “implement DOJ’s PREA standards wherever feasible,” and which the DOJ rejected.

In May, Lambda Legal delivered a petition and a letter to Governor Abbott in Austin, TX, calling upon him to take the necessary action to eliminate prison rape. The petition was part of the organization’s “Stop Prison Rape” campaign, and was signed by almost 10,000 people across the country. Texas is among the states with the highest rates of sexual abuse, and it is widely understood that sexual violence in custody disproportionately affects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) inmates.

Demoya Gordon, Lambda Legal Regional and Transgender Rights Project Adviser, said:

This shift in stance on Texas’s part is important, but our “Stop Prison Rape” campaign is not done yet. Governor Abbott must use his leadership to change the culture in Texas prisons and jails to underscore that sexual violence will not be tolerated. Sustained effort is required from all levels of the Texas criminal justice system to fully illustrate that rape is not part of any sentence, for any crime.

Lambda Legal will of course continue to push Texas to take further concrete steps to stop sexual assault in state prisons and jails, and fight for an end to sexual violence in prisons throughout the country.

Read the press release.