Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has promised that the state will implement federal rules aimed at eradicating rape in prisons and jails, less than two years after his predecessor, Rick Perry, said it would be “impossible” to do so, the Houston Chronicle reports. On the eve of his second unsuccessful presidential bid, then-Gov. Perry refused to sign on to the pledge, costing Texas more than $800,000 in federal grants and drawing the ire of criminal justice advocates. Just 18 months later, Abbott not only has bucked his predecessor, but has agreed to funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars to ensure the goal is met as quickly as possible. “There’s no doubt that Perry did this as part of his preparation to run for president, and Gov. Abbott is obviously much more focused on the health and wellness of folks in his prisons,” said Chris Daley of Just Detention International, a Los Angeles-based advocacy organization.
The governor’s office this week confirmed the federal government has accepted Abbott’s assurance letter, the first time the state has become compliant with the law’s mandates since it was passed, ensuring Texas would not lose another $771,742 in federal money. Now, four states remain noncompliant with the law. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice, which owns and operates 109 state jails and prisons, has audited and found 37 of its facilities in compliance with the law, with four more on the way. Audits of the other facilities are expected to be completed by 2017, when the inspection deadline ends. (The Crime Report discussed Texas’ compliance with the federal law in this story in August.)