Sexual Abuse Rampant in Federal Prisons, Bipartisan Investigation Finds

Document Type

News Article

Publication Date



[quote] According to Brenda V. Smith, a professor at the American University Washington College of Law who was appointed to the Prison Rape Elimination commission in 1994, the standards should work if applied correctly. The problem, she said, is facilities often look for ways around complying with PREA.

“Agencies complain that the standards are nitpicking and not consistent with their lived experience of people in custody or correctional settings. They also argue that women in custody are trying to game the system by claiming that they were abused,” Smith testified Tuesday. “They claim that it would be too expensive or take too much time to follow the standards that will protect these women. They also argue that the standards are there, but you really don’t have to pay attention until there’s an audit.”

But Smith said the findings of the report and the testimonies of the women at Tuesday’s hearing indicate the issue is systemic.

“What’s clear from these incidents is that staff had unfettered, uninterrupted access to women,” she said. “They abused with impunity and at will. They abused women in their offices, in quarters out of sight of cameras and in collusion with other staff.”

Source Publication

The Hill