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Isha Kane

Ms. Honey
Period 2
1 November 2015
U.S. Government
Prison Reform
The Eighth Amendment does not exist within our federal prisons. A prisoner from
the East Mississippi Correctional Facility wrote, I was beat brutally and faced several
facial and rectum injuries from this attack. I was raped, robbed, and assaulted by several
other prisoners. I fault the reason that I'm in prison today. If I had one wish I would wish
that I never violated the law and shoplifting, which is what got me in prison. (ACLU).
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a federal lawsuit, Dockery v. Epps, on
behalf of prisoners at EMCF as it finds the facility hyper-violent, grotesquely filthy and
dangerous (ACLU). This danger that prisoners are prone to would not exist if the PREA
was properly operating. Passed in 2003, the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) was
created in order to analyze and eliminate sexual assaults within federal prison facilities.
In the last ten years, it has failed to do so. If a federal prison fails to uphold the standards
set by the PREA, it will receive a five percent cut in federal pay. However, this pay
comes out of three vital grant programs that serve to protect prisoners. With sexual
assaults currently still rampant, it is evident that the current format of the PREA fails to
create an incentive for facilities to uphold standards when their own money is not being
threatened. A law, that takes federal pay from grant programs to the administration offices
of the prison facilities rather than grant programs, should be created in order to create an

incentive for prisons to uphold PREA standards, protect grant programs, and protect the
Eighth Amendment.
The Eighth Amendment forbids cruel and unusual crimes, including torture. When
a prisoner is sexually assaulted, the Eighth Amendment is being violated. In federal
prisons, sexual assault can be an inmate, detainee, or resident by a staff member,
contractor, or volunteer (Implementing The Prison Rape Elimination Act: A Toolkit for
Jails). Because prisoners are limited to their facilities, they are more at risk to sexual
assaults than people outside of prisons. At any moment, a staff member or another
prisoner can take advantage of a prisoner and that person will have nowhere to run for
safety. Specifically juveniles and women within prisons find themselves most vulnerable
to sexual assaults due to lack of PREA standards being maintained. For example, In
201112, an estimated 1.8% of juveniles ages 16 to 17 held in adult prisons and jails
reported being victimized by another inmate, compared to 2.0% of adults in prisons and
1.6% of adults in jails (PREA Data Collection Activities, 2015). Every prisoner is
entitled to same civil rights as those outside of these facilities. Just because a prisoner had
committed a crime, they are no less entitled to the Bill of rights than any other American
citizen.
Since the passing of the PREA Act in 2003, the number of sexual assaults
occurring within federal prisons remains high. According to the Office of Justice
Programs within the U.S. Department of Justice, Since 2007, the change in rate of
sexual victimization among state and federal prison inmates over the three surveys (4.5%
in 2007, 4.4% in 200809, and 4.0% in 201112) was not statistically significant.
(PREA Data Collection Activities, 2015). This means that there has been no substantial

declination of rapes in federal prisons for more than half the time the PREA has been
active. The purpose of the PREA was to minimize prison rapes; according to these
statistics, that has not been accomplished. Every governor must submit an assurance letter
that the federal prison is complying with PREA standards, no less than five percent of its
DOJ funding will be used to help the prison reach full compliance with PREA standards,
or receive a five percent reduction in grant programs (Implementing The Prison Rape
Elimination Act: A Toolkit for Jails). However last year, Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Indiana,
Nebraska, and Texas had refused to comply or send assurance letters that they were
following PREA standards (Bannon). Texas, one of the states that had failed to send an
assurance letter has the highest reported number of alleged incidents at 550 for a rate per
1,000 prisoner population of 3.95, almost four times the national average for the states of
1.05. It also has one of the lowest substantiation rates (less than three percent)
(Henneke). Additionally, the remaining 42 governors gave assurances that they were
working towards compliance, although no audits of their claims were made (Bannon).
Due to the federal prisons lack of commitment to guaranteeing that they are attempting to
lower federal prison rapes, such crimes are still persistent within the facilities. With a lack
of incentive for the facilities to uphold PREA standards, sexual assaults continue while
prisons continue to diminish in their role in maintaining the Eighth Amendment.
According to the current form of the Prison Rape Elimination Act, if a federal
prison fails to comply with PREA standards, a federal cut is taken out of three grant
programs: Byrne Justice Assistance Grants (JAG), Juvenile Justice and Delinquency
Prevention Act (JJDPA), and Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) (Kelly). However,
these three programs as vital in the protection of prisoners as the PREA. The STOP

Violence Against Women Formula Grant Program had been created in order to combat
violent crimes against women and to develop and strengthen victim services in cases
involving violent crimes against women (Grant Programs). The JJDPA acts to provide
funds for treatment and prevention of juvenile delinquency (Administration of the Office
of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention's Formula Grant Program). The JAG
assists multi-jurisdictional and multi-state organizations in controlling violent and drugrelated crime and serious offenders to support national drug control priorities (EDWARD
BYRNE MEMORIAL / JUSTICE ASSISTANCE GRANT (JAG) PROGRAM
APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS). It is counterproductive to take federal cuts from these
grant programs which protect prisoners from other conflicts that inflict upon their rights.
Instead of taking federal funds from these three programs, they should be taken out of the
administration offices of the prison facilities. This plan is proposed in Senator Coryns
amendment which takes a federal cut for correctional institutions from construction,
administration, or operations, thereby placing the incentive with the policymakers and
administrators directly responsible for compliance with the PREA standards (Letter to
Honorable John Coryn). With a proper incentive in place, federal prisons can work hard
to ensure PREA standards are maintained.
Many would argue that upholding the PREA standards would require excessive
time and money. However, out of prisons funding of at least $39 billion, less than one
percent of the money goes to grant programs and protection acts such as the PREA.
Specifically, to maintain the PREA standards, The estimated annual cost of prison
compliance in the Aggregate is $64.9 million dollars, (National Standards to Prevent,
Detect, and Respond to Prison Rape). The budget for the PREA was built to be small and

manageable that way prison facilities would have no reason not to uphold the PREA. In
terms of time, people remain confident that new bills that would amend the PREA would
cause prisons to sacrifice more people and time into the PREA. However, many fail to
realize that the PREA already includes and demands employee training so that employees
to know how to do screening for risk of victimization and abusiveness must include
whether an inmate isor is perceived to beLGBTI or gender nonconforming, (LGBTI
Youth and Adults in Confinement). Along with this, according to the PREA,
Where an agency operates more than one facility, each facility shall designate a PREA
compliance manager with sufficient time and authority to coordinate the facilitys efforts
to comply with the PREA standards, (Prisons and Jail Standards). Time and
management for the PREA is preset in the act itself. There is no reason to complain about
excessive management need for this act because everything has already been set aside.
Any bills pertaining to the PREA are necessary, whether or not they require extra time
and money, because this is about protecting Americans rights, even in federal prisons.
With a law that will take a federal cut from prisons administration offices, prisons
will be motivated to maintain PREA standards, grant programs, and Eighth Amendment,
allowing the prison to continue to thrive properly. The United States has the largest
incarceration rate in the world. Even with all the most populous European countries
numbers combined, the U.S. would still have a larger amount of people in prisons. From
lack of medical care to overcrowding, federal prisons lack a decent quality of life. If the
government cannot afford to give a luxurious lifestyle to over five million people in
prisons, it can at least protect their rights. America has always proudly shown to other
more authoritative countries of how it values rights. Its time to live up to that reputation.

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