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ABA President Praises US Department of Justice for Adoption of National Standards on the Prevention of Prison Rape

ABA President Praises US Department of Justice for Adoption of National Standards on the Prevention of Prison Rape

By Daniel Buchanan

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 22, 2012 — American Bar Association President Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III yesterday sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder praising the U.S. Department of Justice’s adoption of comprehensive national standards to prevent prison rape.

“The Department of Justice gave serious and thoughtful consideration to the comments it received from the ABA and other interested individuals and organizations,” Robinson said. “We commend the department for significantly advancing Congress’s goal of establishing a ‘zero-tolerance standard’ for the incidence of sexual abuse in U.S. prisons, jails and other facilities.”

The ABA is calling on all branches of the federal government, states and localities to implement these standards as a necessary step toward ensuring the human rights and dignity of prisoners.

On Thursday, May 17, the Department of Justice released a final rule to prevent, detect and respond to sexual abuse in confinement facilities, in accordance with the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003. Supported by a broad bipartisan coalition of criminal justice, civil rights and religious organizations, PREA was passed unanimously by Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2003. This landmark legislation directed a bipartisan national commission to recommend, and the attorney general to adopt, comprehensive national standards on the detection, prevention, reduction and punishment of prison rape.

In February 2011 the Justice Department requested comments on its proposed PREA standards. In April 2011 the ABA submitted comments based on the ABA Criminal Justice Standards on the Treatment of Prisoners, which were adopted by the ABA House of Delegates in February 2010 and express the policy of the ABA.

The final PREA standards announced by the Justice Department are consistent with the ABA Criminal Justice Standards on the Treatment of Prisoners and are supported by a broad consensus of correctional, criminal justice and human rights experts.

A copy of the ABA letter can be found here.

With nearly 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.

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