PREA and LGBTI Rights

Source: Terry Schuster, American Jail Association (AJA), March 7, 2014

Every State in the country is attempting to show that their prisons, jails, and juvenile facilities comply with the new Federal regulations on sexual abuse and harassment. Following the unanimous passage of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) and another decade of research, horrifying testimony, and several drafts of regulations, a set of rules that aims to prevent and address sexual violence now applies to nearly all secure lock-up facilities.

Because lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) inmates are particularly at risk for sexual victimization in these settings, the rules require States to adopt fairly progressive policies to protect these inmates from abuse and harassment. Creating a safe environment for LGBTI inmates requires far more than taking steps to prevent rape in prisons. Correctional facilities will have to prohibit and directly address homophobic slurs and other verbal harassment; they will have to discipline and relocate the perpetrators of the harassment—rather than isolating the victims for their own protection—and they will have to consider transgender inmates’ views regarding whether they feel safer and more comfortable living with males or females. …

Correctional systems that want to aim higher than the basic protections required for Federal funding by going further to prevent and address sexual abuse and harassment behind bars will also affect public safety by improving inmates’ prospects for success once released. In this article, I discuss the basic protections for LGBTI inmates that every juvenile and adult correctional system will need to put in place and offer some extra provisions they should adopt to become models of best practice….