Governors Must Certify PREA Compliance or Face Fiscal Penalties by May 2014
On February 11th, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a letter to state governors reminding them of their obligations under the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) and setting a strict deadline for governor certification of compliance. Per the PREA standards, states risk losing valuable federal dollars--such as the Bureau of Justice Assistance's Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Formula Program and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention's (OJJDP) Act Formula Grant Program--if unable to provide DOJ with certification of compliance or assurance that money will be used to come into compliance.
A governor's certification of full compliance, "shall apply to all facilities in the State under the operational control of the State's executive branch, including facilities operated by private entities on behalf of the State's executive branch." 28 C.F.R. § 115.501(b). By May 15th 2014, governors must provide DOJ with such a certification or provide DOJ with an assurance that the state will use no less than 5% of its federal grant dollars to come into the compliance "in the future."
While we applaud DOJ for setting a certification date, we wonder how many states will actually be able to certify compliance by May 2014. Although the PREA standards have been in effect since August 2012, it is unclear what progress has been made in the states since audits began in August 2013. We also wonder how long state governors can promise to use federal dollars to come into compliance without actually taking any substantive steps to keep corrections facility residents safe.
Considering that nearly 100,000 youth are held in adult jails and prisons each year, how long can we wait for full implementation of the Youthful Inmate Standard? Or are we to be satisfied to receive "assurances" from the state that "we're working on it" only to find ourselves back in the same spot we were in 10 years ago when PREA became the law of the land?
As May 15, 2014 draws near, helps us encourage states to come into compliance by signing this petition urging your Governor to take action now.