I’m getting into the new prison rape regulations filed about a year late by the Obama Justice Department and found the first loophole.
It’s a big one.
I’ll quote the part that certainly was not written by people who want to minimize rape in prison:
Some may see the light at the end of the tunnel in this paragraph. Others may see a hole big enough to drive two Mack Trucks through.
“Notably, the standards are generally not outcome-based [emphasis added], but rather focus on policies and procedures.
“While performance-based standards generally give regulated parties the flexibility to achieve regulatory objectives in the most cost-effective way, it is difficult to employ such standards effectively to combat sexual abuse in confinement facilities, where significant barriers exist to the reporting and investigating of such incidents.
“An increase in incidents reported to facility administrators might reflect increased abuse, or it might just reflect inmates’ increased willingness to report abuse, due to the facility’s success at assuring inmates that reporting will yield positive outcomes and not result in retaliation.
“Likewise, an increase in substantiated incidents could mean either that a facility is failing to protect inmates, or else simply that it has improved its effectiveness at investigating allegations.
“For these reasons, the standards generally aim to inculcate policies and procedures that will reduce and ameliorate bad outcomes, recognizing that one possible consequence of improved performance is that evidence of more incidents will come to light.”
A press release from Just Detention International, which used to be called Stop Prison Rape:
FINALLY — NATIONAL STANDARDS TO STOP PRISONER RAPE
Nine years after passage of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) of 2003 and almost two years after missing its statutory deadline, the Department of Justice releases strong, binding standards to end sexual abuse in U.S. corrections facilities
U.S. Department of Justice statistics say 216,600 people are sexually abused in prison every year.
PREA applies to all federal confinement facilities; several agencies – including the Department of Homeland Security – now need to develop PREA standards.
Ban on routine pat-down searches of female adult inmates by male staff.
Strong protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) inmates.
Youth in adult facilities will no longer be detained in housing units with adults.
All facilities must be audited by independent auditors every three years.
Washington, D.C., May 17, 2012 – Today the Department of Justice finally issued its long-delayed national standards aimed at ending the crisis of sexual abuse in U.S. corrections facilities. Mandated by the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) of 2003, the new regulations are a milestone in the effort to end rape and other forms of sexual victimization of inmates. The PREA standards are immediately binding on federal prisons; other facilities have one year to comply.
According to the Department of Justice’s own estimates, at least 216,600 people are sexually victimized every year while in prisons, jails, and youth detention facilities.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics released a study based on 2008 data today.
A major new Department of Justice study – also released today – confirmed the crisis of sexual abuse in U.S. detention, finding that a shocking one in ten state prisoners had been victimized during their most recent period of detention.
“Sexual abuse in detention shatters hundreds of thousands of lives of men, women, and children every year,” said Lovisa Stannow, Executive Director of Just Detention International.
“We have fought long and hard for the PREA standards.
“They have the potential to cut prisoner rape dramatically.”
Today’s PREA standards cover
youth detention facilities,
police lock-ups, and
community corrections facilities (such as halfway houses).
They detail concrete, common-sense steps that facilities must take to prevent and respond to sexual abuse, incorporating many – though not all – of the reforms championed by Just Detention International.
Founded in 1980 by a prisoner rape survivor, Just Detention International was instrumental in developing and securing the passage of PREA and has since led the push for strong, binding standards.
Unfortunately, the standards include several dangerously weak points.
This floor of the McHenry County Jail where illegal aliens are housed are not affected by the new Federal anti-rape regulations. Homeland Security promises, however, that parllel regulations will be revealed within 120 days.
For instance, while banning routine pat-down searches by male staff of female inmates, they fail to prohibit female staff from conducting pat-down searches of male inmates, even though the Department of Justice’s own study released earlier today showed widespread abuse by female staff of male inmates.
Additionally, the Obama Administration chose not to apply the PREA standards to immigration detention facilities, contrary to Congressional intent.
The Administration did, however, issue a crucial Presidential Memorandum this morning, confirming that PREA applies to “all agencies with Federal confinement facilities.”
In response, the Department of Homeland Security, which administers immigration detention facilities, already announced that it has begun developing its own PREA standards and will issue a draft for public comment within 120 days.
“The Presidential Memorandum rightly points out that all federal agencies must comply with PREA,” said Stannow.
“In the coming year, Just Detention International looks forward to working with these agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Defense, to finalize their PREA standards.”
Among the many strengths of the PREA standards, they require that particularly vulnerable inmates – such as those who are
–be housed safely.
They spell out requirements for inmate education and staff training on sexual abuse prevention, including specialized training for investigative and medical staff.
The standards also demand that facilities offer survivors access to rape crisis counselors – trained experts who provide crisis intervention and emotional support in the aftermath of an assault.
The Obama Administration dragged these regulations out for years.
The standards require that youth in adult facilities no longer be detained in housing units with adults.
Crucially, the standards remove a proposed 20-day time limit for victimized inmates to report the abuse, and they also insist that all facilities be audited by independent auditors every three years.
Many prisons and jails started adopting draft versions of the PREA standards years ago, in collaboration with Just Detention International. State prisons in California and Oregon and the Miami-Dade County jail are among facilities that already have launched groundbreaking projects aimed at ending sexual abuse of inmates.
“We know from our extensive on-the-ground work that the PREA standards can transform corrections culture,” said Stannow.
“Working inside prisons and jails, we have seen how basic, low-cost changes to policy and practice can trigger enormous improvements in transparency, respect between staff and inmates, and overall safety.”
Survivors of sexual abuse in detention have been at the forefront of the fight for strong PREA standards.
One of them, Jan Lastocy, who was raped several times a week for seven months by a Michigan prison official while serving time for attempted embezzlement, said:
“I have dreamed of this day for years. The PREA standards aren’t perfect, but they are an amazing tool for making prisons safer,” said Lastocy, a member of Just Detention International’s Survivor Council. “I don’t need revenge. All I want is to know that others won’t have to live through the horror I endured. Now we need to use these standards and stop prisoner rape once and for all.”
For more information, or to speak with a survivor of prisoner rape, please contact Jesse Lerner-Kinglake at email@example.com. Tel 213-384-1400, ext. 113; cell: 424-230-4540.
AP wrote a story about the Obama Administration's Title IX campus rape regulations Sunday.
Eric Holder begins his introductory remarks to U.S. Justice Department web site readers with this statement:
“The primary mission of the United States Department of Justice is to do justice.
“Our only responsibility it to do the right thing.”
If Holder really believes that why has he not met the statutory deadline for issuing rape in prison regulations.
The deadline was June 23, 2010.
It’s almost two years later.
In June of 2009, proposed regulations were made public.
There was a comment period.
It’s long over.
The Washington City Newspaper had an article covering a Jue 23, 2010 press conference by Lovisa Stannow, Just Detention International (previously called Stop Prison Rape) Executive Director.
Naturally, she decried that day’s missed deadline.
It’s now almost two years later.
A former white collar criminal from a Colorado prison also spoke.
Let me show you the part about him:
“Scott Howard-Smith, a survivor of sexual abuse while incarcerated on theft and tax code violation charges, also shared his story on the call.
“‘The attacks that I suffered were devastating,’ said Howard-Smith, who detailed how a white supremacist gang in his Colorado prison ‘raped, assaulted, and extorted’ him in an attempt to convince him to commit fraud on their behalf.
“The abuse didn’t stop with fellow inmates.
“‘My efforts to report were often fruitless,’ Howard-Smith says.
“Corrections officers refused to help him unless he identified all of his assailants by name and detailed their illegal activities, a move Howard-Smith thought would have put him at greater risk in the facility.
“Other officials informed Howard-Smith that ‘as a homosexual I should expect to be targeted by one gang or another,’ while refusing to offer him added protections.”
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder
(Virginia U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf seems to be the main pushing Holder. He and other need to push more.)
Another part of President Barack Obama’s administration, the U.S. Department of Education, did manage to promulgate regulations against sexual assault on college and university campus.
An Associated Press article on Sunday, May 22, 2012, reported on that. (Can’t find the Sun-Times link, but here’s the one to the USA Today story.)
That version reports,
“…as Title IX is now interpreted…colleges must respond if a sexual assault is reported, even if prosecutors refuse to get involved.
“Moreover, they face often precise instructions from the government for conducting their investigations and proceedings, and even the standard of proof to use.”
Now, why would the Obama folks go after rape in college, but not in prison?
Could it be because college coeds can vote and most prisoners can’t?
A press release from the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office:
ALGONQUIN MAN FOUND GUILTY BY JURY OF AGGRAVATED CRIMINAL SEXUAL ASSAULT
Louis A. Bianchi, McHenry County State’s Attorney, announces today that Andrew Spanier, 58, of Algonquin, was found guilty Friday, April 29, 2011, of the offenses of
Aggravated Criminal Sexual Assault and
Criminal Sexual Assault.
On October 9, 2009, the victim was at the defendant’s home for purposes of employment.
At the time, the defendant ran a cleaning business.
Prior to the victim leaving the defendant’s home to clean a residence, the defendant offered to give the victim a tour of his home.
When in the basement, the defendant threw the victim onto a bed, forcibly removed her clothing, and raped her.
The evidence at trial showed that within days the victim spoke about the rape with two of her friends, as well as reported the incident to her physician.
During the trial a recorded telephone conversation between the victim and the defendant was introduced into evidence where the defendant indicated
that“he thought the resistance was not that strong”,
that he felt “remorseful”,
that “some animal instinct came over” him, and
he offered to pay her $500.
The defendant testified, where he admitted to the sexual intercourse, but claimed it was consensual.
Aggravated Criminal Sexual Abuse, the more serious charge, carries with it a sentencing range of 6 – 30 years where 85% of any sentence would have to be served, as well as lifetime sex offender registration. Sentencing is scheduled for June 29, 2011. This case was investigated by
Det. Sgt. Lamz, and
CSO Slabinski of the Algonquin Police department,
and was prosecuted by Ryan Blackney and Patrick Kenneally.
Thomas Puchmelter hung himself in his McHenry County Jail cell last weekend.
While the Sheriff’s Office has not released much information. Daily Herald reporter Harry Hitzeman writes that a Freedom of Information request has been filed for the internal investigation report, which Undersheriff Andy Zinke says is not completed.
What struck my eye in the Daily Herald story was the following paragraph about an interview with his mother, an assault on whom led to his jailing:
Thomas J. Puchmelter decided death was better than state prison. This is the photo of when he was arrested by Crystal Lake Police.
She says Thomas was taking anti-anxiety medication and was probably mentally ill. She said her son went to prison in Joliet earlier in his life and was terrified of going back.
With all the correspondence I have received from men who have been raped in prison during my last six years in the Illinois General Assembly, please excuse me if I think such an experience might have been going through Thomas Puchmelter’s mind as he debated whether life in prison could be worse than death.
The following letter from Just Detention International Executive Director Lovisa Stannow about the U.S. Justice Department’s belated request (regulations were supposed to go into effect last July 1st, according to the law) for comments on its proposed rape in prison regulations provides up to date information:
Justice Department Confirms Appalling Human Rights Crisis: 216,600 Inmates Sexually Abused in One Year
At long last, yesterday the Department of Justice launched its 60-day public comment period on proposed national standards addressing sexual abuse in detention. In an extensive report, the Department also released, for the first time, its own estimate of the number of inmates who endured sexual abuse while behind bars in a one-year period: 216,600.
That’s right: 216,600. This number is a devastating confirmation of what JDI has claimed for years — sexual abuse in U.S. detention is a horrific, nationwide human rights crisis.
Let’s put 216,600 in perspective: almost 600 prisoners a day are subjected to rape and other forms of sexual abuse while in the government’s care.
Or, put differently, 25 inmates are abused every hour of every day.
That number reflects only the first time each person was victimized during a one-year period; the number of incidents of sexual abuse is several times higher, as many inmates are assaulted again and again.
Prisoner rape survivors continue to be locked up with their assailants, unable to escape — forced to live in constant fear of another attack, their trauma renewed every time they see their abusers. These are our fellow human beings; men, women, and children who one day will return home to their families and communities.
At JDI, we hope that these shocking numbers will, once and for all, force the corrections community to acknowledge the full extent of the crisis of sexual abuse and rally in favor of strong national standards to end it.
After an initial review, we can say that the revised standards contain both positive points — such as requiring staff to consider the factors that make someone more vulnerable to abuse when making housing decisions — as well as negative ones — such as allowing prison grievance policies to put harsh limits on how much time a survivor has after an assault to file a formal report.
As we continue our analysis of the standards, we will provide you with further updates and insights — and we encourage all of our supporters and allies to join us in providing feedback on the revised standards.
After the conclusion of the 60-day public comment period (March 24) the Department of Justice will review the input it has received and modify the measures before formalizing them as federal regulations. According to the press release accompanying the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the Justice Department plans to complete this process before the end of 2011.
Thank you for helping us make sure that the Department of Justice and corrections facilities across the country take seriously their responsibility to end the sexual abuse of inmates.
That’s what the following press release from the McHenry County State’s Attorney says:
CRYSTAL LAKE MAN SENTENCED TO TWENTY YEARS FOR HOME INVASION AND CRIMINAL SEXUAL ASSAULT
Louis A. Bianchi, McHenry County State’s Attorney, announces that Robert J. Minerly, 35, was sentenced to 20 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections for the offenses of Home Invasion and Criminal Sexual Assault, following a plea of guilty to those charges.
Defendant was sentenced to
10 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections for the class X felony offense of Home Invasion and
10 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections for the class 1 felony offense of Criminal Sexual Assault.
These sentences are consecutive under Illinois sentencing laws, bringing the total to 20 years.
On August 14, 2009, the defendant entered the victim’s room at the Crystal Lake Motel.
Once inside the room he climbed on top of the sleeping victim, placed a rope around her neck from behind, and began to choke her.
The victim struggled with the defendant and was eventually gagged with a sock.
The defendant sexually assaulted the victim and then fled the scene.
The defendant was linked to the crimes by the victim’s description of a Toyota baseball cap worn during the assault and by DNA evidence.
This matter was investigated by the Crystal Lake Police Department and prosecuted by Assistant State’s Attorney Ryan Blackney.
Chuck Keeshan’s Daily Herald article about 53-year old Antioch Upper Grade School teacher Wes Owens, a resident of McHenry County’s far northeastern Solon Mills, has brought some pungent comments from those who think the punishment should be more that incarceration.
The sexual relationship started when a former student, who had become a babysitter, was 15 and lasted two years.
One seems to be looking forward to Owens’ being raped in prison.
Voiceofthepeople: Tue Sep 21, 2010 3:24 PM +3
Believe me this guy is going to get whats comming to him in Prison….You know I dont really care much for convicted Felons, but I love the way they deal with Child molesters….
ihateidiots : Tue Sep 21, 2010 9:55 PM +2
Anyone for castration
Perhaps these folks should run for the state legislature, but, if I were still in Springfield, such proposals would have my active opposition.
Until they change current law, however, rape is not part of any sentence in Illinois.
Now called "Just Detention, International," the group started out as "Stop Prison Rape."
Kenneth L. Johnson is due for parole October 20, 2011. He was sentenced to 3 years, six months, for the possession of child pornography.
Perhaps those calling for such informal, but life-changing punishment by inmates might reflect upon the
cat calls when newly incarcerated young men from the area walk into prison.
Those young men get raped, too.
Maybe the neighborhood kid who stole something to support a drug habit. Maybe the neighborhood youth who sold marijuana to support his habit.
Besides never being able to teach again, former Antioch teacher Owens will have to register as a sex offender.
This is the second teacher from that system to face such charges. The first, Kenneth Lee Johnson, told police of Owens’ affair.
= = = = =
Added September 30, 2010.
The day this story went up, I filed a Freedom of Information request with the Antioch school district for photos and what the two men taught.
She wrote me, “Ken Johnson taught Social Studies at Antioch Upper Grade School and Wes Owens taught Language Arts and Social Studies at Antioch Upper Grade School,” but did not send their photos. I asked her to reconsider before I filed an appeal with the Attorney General’s Public Access Division.
Today I received the following email from Principal Mary Ellen Casey:
Ken Johnson yearbook picture.
Yearbook photo of Wes Owens
The District continues to assert that the photographs you have requested are not “public records” merely because they are in the District’s possession. However, the District is not interested in continuing to expend District resources to object to the disclosure of photographs of these two individuals. Therefore, pictures of both individuals are attached.
Needless to say, I disagree and would have filed an appeal with the Public Access Division of the Illinois Attorney General’s Office had the district not provided the photos. Fortunately for Antioch taxpayers, wise heads prevailed and legal fees were saved.
Either the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice is doing one marvelous job preventing rape and other sexual assaults in prison or employees are not keeping their eyes open.
I filed a Freedom of Information request with the new spin-off department asking for any documents relating to rape or sexual assault on youth in the department’s care. Here’s the response I received from Chief Legal Advisor Beth Anne Compton:
“Any rape or sexual assault occurring in a Department of Juvenile Justice facility would trigger reporting pursuant to Department policies and an investigation.
“However, there have been no such occurrences during the 12 month period of September 1, 2009 through August 31, 2010.
“Therefore the Department has no documentation to provide in response to your request.”