On June 12, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security approved, by voice vote, a bill (H.R. 1707) designed to reduce prison rape. Subcommittee Chair Howard Coble (R-NC) commended “the bipartisan effort to address this very serious problem.”
Sponsored by Reps. Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Bobby Scott (D-VA), the bill would direct the Bureau of Justice Statistics at the Department of Justice (DoJ) to conduct an annual review and analysis of the incidence and effects of prison rape. The review should include information about both the victims and perpetrators of prison rape, as well as prison systems with a high incidence of prison rape.
H.R. 1707 also authorizes $15 million for the establishment of a DoJ Review Panel on Prison Rape. The review panel would be charged with providing a report to Congress that would include the incidence of prison rape; statistical, sociological, and psychological data on prison rape; statistical data aggregated by the federal, state, prison system, and prison levels; the identification of prison systems and institutions where the incidence of prison rape exceeds the national average by 30 percent; and the identification of jails or police lock-up systems where prison rape is significantly avoidable.
The bill also authorizes $5 million for the establishment of a national clearinghouse within the National Institute of Corrections that would provide information and assistance to those authorities responsible for the prevention, investigation, and punishment of prison rape. An additional $40 million would be authorized for prison rape prevention and prosecution grants to states.
A National Prison Rape Reduction Commission also would be created under H.R. 1707.