By refusing to comply with federal standards designed to combat prison rape, Gov. Rick Perry is ignoring a human rights crisis that disproportionately affects LGBT people, according to one advocacy group.
In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder last week, Perry announced he won’t certify that the state’s prison and jails are in compliance with recently finalized federal standards under the Prison Rape Elimination Act.
Texas is among the worst states in the nation for prison rape, but Perry said it would be too expensive to comply with the regulations. According to Just Detention International, which works to eliminate sexual abuse in detention facilities, LGBT inmates are 15 times more likely to be victims of prison rape than non-LGBT inmates.
“Governor Perry’s letter rejecting PREA is a disgraceful illustration of why Texas prisons are among the most violent in the country,” JDI Executive Director Lovisa Stannow said in a statement. “It’s shameful for any governor to reject PREA. It’s especially shocking that the governor of the state with by far the worst record when it comes to addressing prisoner rape does so. Perry’s letter doesn’t only confirm bad leadership, it also provides a sad indication that things probably won’t get better anytime soon in Texas.”
JDI says Texas is home to more facilities with high levels of inmate-on-inmate sexual abuse than any other state. The group also says it receives more letters from survivors of sexual abuse in Texas prisons than from any other state.
Perry’s decision could result in a 5 percent reduction in federal funding and make the state vulnerable to lawsuits.