On May 10th, 2010 the Center for HIV Law and Policy and several Teen SENSE coalition partners submitted comments on the Department of Justice's (DOJ) proposed standards for the elimination of sexual assault in state and federal correctional facilities across the country. The comments emphasize that the standards should proactively address the connection between comprehensive sexual health care for youth in state custody in the areas of medical screening and care, youth education programs, and staff training, and the elimination of sexual abuse against these youth.
The Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA) directed the Attorney General to develop national standards on the prevention, detection, and punishment of rape and sexual abuse in prisons. The proposed standards were released for public comment on March 3, 2010. When finalized, these standards will apply to all community-based correctional agencies and private and public detention facilities that house adults and juveniles. The standards will immediately become binding on the Federal Bureau of Prisons; states that fail to adopt and apply them will lose five percent of federal prison funds each year they decline to do so. It is expected that the final rule on the standards will be published later this year.
In the comments submitted to DOJ, CHLP and Teen SENSE partners maintained that sexual health care programs for incarcerated youth not only are legally and ethically mandated as a central part of basic medical care, they also have a real impact on reducing the occurrence and increasing the reporting of sexual assault. With LGBTQ youth ten times more likely to be sexually victimized than heterosexual youth, medical services, sex education, and staff training must proactively address homophobia, transphobia, and intolerance of gender and sexual identity differences if the sexual abuse of incarcerated youth is to end. CHLP was joined in the comments to the DOJ by HiTOPS, the New Jersey Parent's Caucus, Inc., the New Jersey Association on Correction, the African American Office of Gay Concerns, and the Hyacinth AIDS Foundation.