DOJ Rejects Texas Pledge To Comply With PREA “Wherever Feasible”


The Justice Department has rejected Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s assurance that the state would comply with the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act “wherever feasible,” the New York Times reports. Texas, which has a high rate of reported sexual abuse against inmates, is expected to be financially penalized for a second straight year for failing to follow federal procedures to document progress in eliminating prison rape. Nine states certified full compliance with PREA standards on May 15, the deadline for governors to make their second progress reports. That brought to 11 the number of states that have fully adopted the standards. In his letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Abbott said he could not certify complete compliance. He adopted a more conciliatory approach than had predecessor Rick Perry, who last year declined to respond to Washington's first deadline and denounced the national rape standards as a “counterproductive and unnecessarily cumbersome and costly regulatory mess.”

Abbott did not provide the required written assurance that Texas would spend at least 5 percent of certain federal grants to achieve full compliance with the anti-rape standards. The nine states that certified full compliance with the rape standards are Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington. New Hampshire and New Jersey achieved the certification last year. Texas was one of six “renegade states,” as inmate advocates called them last year. Two of them, Florida and Indiana, opted into the national effort to eliminate prison rape this year. It is unclear what the three others, Arizona, Idaho and Utah, did.

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