[Vision2020] Good News: Idaho FINALLY agrees to comply with federal prison rape law

Saundra Lund v2020 at ssl1.fastmail.fm
Sat Dec 12 12:00:28 PST 2015

It's past time!  I personally are beyond tired of living in a state that
constantly complains about not having enough money for important things like
education, Medicaid expansion, a statewide public defender system, and PREA
while costing taxpayers millions and millions to be on the wrong side of
issues like appealing the decision against its unconstitutional Ag-Gag law
g-9th-circuit/> , marriage equality, refugee resettlement, failed
corrections and vendor payment privatization, blatantly ignoring the mental
health needs of children in state care
ho-juvenile-care-case/article_011d8f4c-1311-11e5-9778-9397911e7f28.html> ,
"Add the Words," fighting federal land management,  attempting to limit
women's Constitutional health care rights, and the like.  End rant -
cautiously good news article below.



Saundra Lund

Moscow, ID


Compassion is the basis of all morality.

~ Arthur Schopenhuaer



Idaho finally agrees to comply with federal prison rape law



Dec. 11, 2015 8:41 PM EST 


BOISE, Idaho (AP) - After two years of refusing to comply with a federal law
intended to stop prison rape, Idaho has reversed course.

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter advised the U.S. Department of Justice in a letter
Thursday that Idaho's prisons, jails and juvenile detention centers would
work toward coming into full compliance with the standards required under
the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA).

That means every state except for Utah, Arkansas and Alaska has either
implemented the law or promised to work toward full implementation of it.

"Prisons, jails, and detention centers in Idaho are making strides to
implement the standards," Otter wrote, noting that three state juvenile
detention centers have all passed audits showing they are compliant with the

States were supposed to be in full compliance with the law two years ago,
but Idaho and a handful of others refused. At the time, Otter said the law
had too much "red tape" and that complying would cost the state millions of
dollars. Instead, he said a special task force would develop Idaho-specific
rules to combat sex abuse behind bars. Many of the rules the task force came
up with were identical to the federal standards.

The state has lost roughly $82,000 a year in federal grant money for
refusing to comply with the federal law. Now Otter is asking the U.S.
Department of Justice to reinstate the funding so it can be used toward
implementing the federal law.

"Clearly this is a hugely important step forward by Idaho," said Lovisa
Stannow, executive director of Just Detention International, an organization
that works to end sex abuse behind bars. "The commitment to PREA signals
real culture change - this is much more than a symbolic step forward."

Idaho Department of Correction Director Kevin Kempf said he spoke with the
Idaho Sheriffs' Association on Tuesday, asking for their help in bringing
the state into compliance. Under the law, all correction facilities have to
undergo audits showing that they have implemented all the standards,
including training staffers to recognize and investigate sexual assault,
allowing inmates to access rape crisis centers and having a zero-tolerance
approach to sex abuse.

The Idaho Sheriffs' Association voted unanimously to work toward compliance
with the federal law, Kempf said. The work of the state task force helped
pave the way, he said, giving correction officials across the state time to
examine the federal rules and see if they were feasible.

"When the PREA national standards first came out, they looked daunting. As
we have worked through a lot of them, we've become smarter, and they're not
as daunting as they first looked," Kempf said. "I really think it was a
responsible thing for us to explore exactly what it meant before it was
signed on the bottom line."

Kempf also said he appreciated the governor's willingness to give him some
autonomy over the matter. Kempf was named the Idaho Department of
Corrections director in December 2014, several months after Otter first
announced the state wouldn't be participating in the Prison Rape Elimination

Stannow said the governor's letter shows that the state, the Idaho
Department of Correction and Idaho sheriffs recognize that "implementing
PREA is a way to make prisons and jails safe."

"This is a reason for advocates and corrections officials and inmates in
Idaho to celebrate and to really recognize that the state is making a very
important commitment to the basic dignity of all people," Stannow said.

Congress passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act in 2003, and experts across
the country worked over the next decade to create the standards intended to
stamp out rape behind bars. Federal statistics show about 216,000 adult and
juvenile inmates are sexually assaulted each year nationwide.

Otter's spokesman, Jon Hanian, said the policy change reflects progress made
by the state and by smaller county facilities. "I think it just speaks to
the fact that we've been moving the ball on this, and we're at the point
where we're ready to send the letter," Hanian said.

Hanian said he couldn't immediately comment on Otter's statement from 2014
that implementing the law would cost millions. Otter's letter, though,
suggested that the way the law is interpreted has changed somewhat: "As the
interpretation and accepted practices related to the federal PREA standards
continues to evolve, so too does Idaho's response," the governor wrote.

In the letter, Otter said the state's juvenile detention system is already
fully compliant with the Prison Rape Elimination Act.

The Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections is currently facing several
lawsuits from nearly a dozen current and former juveniles who say they were
sexually abused by staffers while at a detention center in Nampa.


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