UT, AR Still Refuse to Adopt U.S. Prison Rape Law

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Utah and Arkansas are the only two states still not working toward compliance with the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act, reports the Salt Lake Tribune. Nineteen states have fully adopted standards under the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), according to the U.S. Justice Department’s latest compliance list. Another 34 states and U.S. territories have demonstrated they are working toward compliance. Several states — including Idaho, Alaska and Texas — initially rejected PREA but in recent years agreed to move toward compliance. Kirsten Rappleye, spokeswoman for Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, said Utah “fully supports the goal of eliminating rape within our correctional facilities,” and the state “implemented many of the stated recommendations prior to the PREA’s passage, and has now implemented the majority of them.”

Passed in 2003, PREA mandated increased sex-abuse training for staff and the ability of inmates to report sexual assault to a rape crisis center or similar organization. It also required prisons be audited for compliance with the law every three years, and created a uniform method to collect data on prison sexual assaults. Federal statistics estimate about 200,000 inmates are sexually assaulted each year. For Utah, refusing to implement the standards has meant losing federal grant money. Last year, $146,132 was withheld in DOJ funds for corrections and law enforcement, juvenile justice and violence against women programs, according to Bureau of Justice Assistance figures. Utah has said that it would not adopt certain requirements of PREA, including a rule that prison workers who entered secure facilities with opposite gender inmates announce their presence. Herbert says PREA’s prison audit structure is overly costly and burdensome for the state.

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