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Public Comments on Proposed PREA Standards

Today, Policy Integrity submitted comments to the Department of Justice (“DOJ”)on its notice of proposed national standards to detect, prevent, and reduce the incidence of sexual abuse in the nation’s prisons. The proposal implements the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (“PREA”), which created the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission to study of the impacts of sexual assault in the United States; standards ultimately suggested by the Commission inform much of the DOJ’s proposed rule.

Our comments recommend that in adhering to its statutory mandate to not exceed “substantial costs” while promoting the goals of PREA, the DOJ should cleave to an interpretation of the word “substantial” that takes adequate account of both the potential compliance costs and the benefits – short and long-term – of implementing the proposed standards. Also, the Department should conduct a re-examination of its proposed video monitoring, auditing, and immigration facility standards to assess the costs and benefits of adopting various intermediate policy alternatives in these areas.

Finally, the Department’s rejection of the Commission’s Supplemental Standards for Facilities with Immigrant Detainees and ICE Family Facilities is not supported by any economic analysis. Rather, it is likely that applying some of the PREA standards to immigration facilities would be economically justified. Department should conduct analyze the costs and benefits of adopting discrete aspects of the Commission’s recommendations for these additional facilities.