A prison or jail sentence should never include sexual assault. And yet, reports of harassment, assault and prolonged isolation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) individuals in custody are staggering.
We now have a new tool that can help end this violence. In 2012, the Department of Justice released the final federal regulations implementing the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). These regulations apply to federal, state and local correctional facilities and lock-ups and include landmark protections for LGBTI individuals. However, despite—or likely because of—the decade-long process leading up to the passage of the final regulations, much confusion remains about how to best leverage PREA's protections to protect the most vulnerable people in custody.
Advocacy and outside pressure are especially important to ensure the success of PREA, and can make an enormous difference for the safety and security of all prisoners. This four-part toolkit is designed for advocates both in and outside of correctional settings to use PREA's requirements to end the abuse of LGBTI individuals. As federal, state and local agencies reassess their policies and practices to come into compliance with PREA's requirements, there may be room for advocates to demand meaningful change. The time to act is now.