Ten Years After Law’s Passage, DOJ Takes Baby Steps To Address Prison Sexual Assault

Ten years after Congress passed legislation to address rampant sexual abuse in prison, especially of teenagers and LGBT individuals, the Department of Justice is starting to implement new regulations under the law.

The new policies will impose basic requirements, such as separating teens in adult prisons, and banning cross-gender pat-downs in juvenile and female units. Facilities must also develop plans to eliminate rape, and will be subject to federal audits, U.S. News reports.

Just as the PREA turns ten years old, the first audit was conducted last week at a federal prison in West Virginia, and more are scheduled for the coming weeks. But some are alarmed to learn who will perform the first round of audits. The American Correctional Association, a membership organization for corrections officers, performs accreditation for many detention centers, and will be asked to examine sexual assault prevention as part of that assessment. But the ACA has very close ties to corrections officers, and a ProPublica analysis calls it the “very organization that has been criticized over the years for failing to identify and address safety problems at prisons across the country.”

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