In Shift, Texas Says It Will Obey Prison Rape Law “Wherever Feasible”


In a shift from his predecessor, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told the U.S. Justice Department that Texas plans to comply as much as possible with a federal law that aims to prevent prison rape, the Texas Tribune reports. Last year, former Gov. Rick Perry said Texas would not follow some requirements of the Prison Rape Elimination Act, calling it a “counterproductive and unnecessarily cumbersome and costly regulatory mess.” Abbott told Attorney General Loretta Lynch that, “I can assure you that we will fully implement DOJ’s PREA [Prison Rape Elimination Act] standards wherever feasible.”

Abbott wrote Lynch last Friday, the last day governors could tell DOJ whether their state was in compliance with the law or working to bring it up to speed. The gay rights group Lambda Legal had asked Abbott to do more to combat prison rape. “Gov. Abbott has taken a necessary first step to stop sexual violence in Texas prisons and jails,” said the group’s Jael Humphrey. “It is only the first step, however, and sustained commitment is needed from all levels of the Texas criminal justice system to make clear that rape is not an acceptable part of any sentence, for any crime.”

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