The Prison Rape Elimination Act : A Treatment for the U.S. Prison Sexual Assault Epidemic
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Until a decade ago, the responsibility to protect the safety of prison inmates was entirely up to the initiative of corrections officials. As can be expected in an over-crowded and under-funded corrections system such as what has come to exist in the United States, efforts to do so were few and far between. Meanwhile, thousands of American citizens each year were sexually assaulted while in state custody. As researchers caught wind that this was occurring, they began to call public attention to this fact, only to be met with general indifference. Some people couldn't be bothered to care whether or not a convicted criminal suffered abuse, feeling that someone who has committed a crime deserves whatever punishment they receive. For others, prison rape was an unpleasant topic which—luckily for them—as out of sight and out of mind. It took almost thirty years, but slowly survivors of prison rape and their activist allies established a voice on the national political stage. Having finally gained the attention of policymakers, they pushed for federal intervention in this human rights violation. The federal government responded in 2003 by unanimously passing a single piece of legislation to address this problem: The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA).
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