Florida Must Protect Youth Behind Bars, Comply with PREA
This week, governors across the country are facing an important deadline. They must let the Department of Justice know by Friday if their state is complying with the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA).
All eyes need to be on Florida Gov. Rick Scott.
His response will affect the group most vulnerable to sexual violence in prison – young people. More than 2,000 of the state’s prisoners are under 21. As of today, there are more than 400 youths age 18 and under in Florida’s adult jails and prisons.
Floridians are already familiar with media reports of violence and abuse of our adult prisoners. But youths in prison don’t always report sexual assault. When they do, they often report multiple incidents.
Unfortunately, the governor hasn’t shown federal officials whether the state is keeping youths safe in its prisons. He could even remain silent on Friday. Under PREA, governors can choose to not provide information to federal officials, but their state will face a financial penalty.
If Scott chooses this route, Floridians need to let him know that this is unacceptable. There is federal money available to help states comply with PREA, but Florida must assure officials the state will reach compliance. Reaching compliance may not be an easy task, but it must be done. There is no excuse for Florida not to take every step to protect youths from sexual assault in prison.
Tania Galloni is the managing attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Florida office.
For more information and to join Florida reform efforts, please visit: http://noplaceforachild.com/
Please visit our blog this week for updates on PREA from around the country.
Additionally, here are some sample posts for social media, please share:
“There’s No Excuse” national week of action to end prison rape #ImplementPREA
Prison Rape Elimination Act was passed to end sexual abuse behind bars. Act now to #ImplementPREA
PROBLEM: Jails & prisons are not equipped to protect youth from dangers of adult facilities. SOLUTION: #ImplementPREA
PREA would help the more than 2 million people behind bars including the 100K youth in jails & prisons every day #ImplementPREA
There's No Excuse! Protect Children from Rape in Adult Jails & Prisons. Take Action TODAY#ImplementPREA
Implementing PREA will save lives. Join our efforts to protect youth behind bars #ImplementPREA
On any given day, over 8,000 youth are confined in adult jails and prisons. Research shows that youth are not safe in adult facilities and are at the greatest risk of sexual victimization. Youth are 36X more likely to commit suicide in an adult jail than in a juvenile detention facility. Take Action during the “There’s No Excuse” #ImplementPREA.
Prison rape is no laughing matter: More than 2million people behind bars including the 100K youth in jails & prisons are at risk of sexual abuse every day. The Prison Rape Elimination Act was passed to end sexual abuse behind bars. Its time for Governors to ensure that PREA is implemented in every state. Learn more and take action #ImplementPREA