The Sexist

Eric Holder Misses Deadline For Implementing Prison Rape Standards

Today, June 23, 2010, marks the deadline for Attorney General Eric Holder to finalize the national standards for corrections facilities to address prison rape. And unless Holder's doing some serious cramming right now, he's going to miss it.

Last June, the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission released a report of proposed national standards for the “prevention, detection, and response to sexual abuse in confinement settings”—a path toward ending prison rape. Holder had 12 months to review the report and make a final ruling on what standards would become law. Holder failed to meet the deadline—according to some corrections experts, he appears to be at least several months behind schedule—and every day Holder waits means the continued abuse of people in detention facilities across the country.

Today, Just Detention International (JDI) held a teleconference to voice its disappointment with Holder's tardiness. According to Lovisa Stannow, Executive Director of JDI, Holder's failure isn't solely administrative.  "National standards have the potential to protect tens of thousands of men, women, and children from being sexually abused behind bars every year," Stannow said.

Scott Howard-Smith, a survivor of sexual abuse while incarcerated on theft and tax code violation charges, also shared his story on the call. "The attacks that I suffered were devastating," said Howard-Smith, who detailed how a white supremacist gang in his Colorado prison "raped, assaulted, and extorted" him in an attempt to convince him to commit fraud on their behalf.

The abuse didn't stop with fellow inmates. “My efforts to report were often fruitless," Howard-Smith says. Corrections officers refused to help him unless he identified all of his assailants by name and detailed their illegal activities, a move Howard-Smith thought would have put him at greater risk in the facility. Other officials informed Howard-Smith that “as a homosexual I should expect to be targeted by one gang or another," while refusing to offer him added protections.

Also joining in on the call was Rep. Frank Wolf, a Republican from Virginia, who emphasized the urgent time factor in finalizing the standards. "I’ve heard figures [of sexual abuse of prisoners] from 60 to 100,000 people a year!" Wolf said in a call from the House floor. "This is unacceptable. The Attorney General has got to act, and he’s got to act now . . . and if he doesn’t act, someone ought to call the president. But to let this go on for one more day is just wrong.”

Photo via decade_null, Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.

  • Grumpy

    Fact is, a great many people do not want prison rape to end. Most feel it is 'just' punishment for committing a crime. Those that feel this way cut across all socioeconomic/racial/religious divides. Most actually are folks who call themselves 'religious'.

    That old joke about 'meeting Bubba' is told by all types of folks with no real understanding or caring about the victims because they don't feel like folks are victims at all but deserve whatever they get.

  • Jim Zinc

    It's no "joke" Grumpy. How would you feel if your kid got tortured and raped on a "Drunk and Public" charge?

  • Christina79

    Who cares? Men cannot be raped. End of story. Rape is gender specific as male perpetrated against a women. It always has been. Where is all this "We men can be raped too we're being abused, oppressed, and ignored" bullshit coming from? The U.S. and Britain, the two nations that have made the best efforts for the feminist cause, both refer to it as male perpetrated against women.

    Why do men keep expecting us to feel sorry for their little assholes being violated when the overwhelming majority of sexual assault is against women, and it is actually rape instead of the cheap knock off version of male sexual assault?

  • Madeline


    "Who cares? Men cannot be raped. End of story."

    You're trolling.

  • Nathan

    I think Christina79 makes a good point about rape--it is primarily abuse by men directed at women. And her larger point--that it's a systemic problem relating to the policies of government--is apt.

    That said: tell a man who's been held down in the shower and torn to bleeding from his rectum by three other men asserting dominance that he wasn't truly raped. It won't fly.

  • Scott Howard-Smith

    As a male victim of repeaeted prison rape, I assure you, one man cannot overpower what is often three to ten men assaulting him and, especially in my case, when a knife is placed at his throat. With all due respect, Christina's comments reflect the ill-conceived notion of those who wish to ignore a probelm until it becomes their own. I sincerely pray she never has a son, brother, or nephew who is victimized behind bars, or in society itself. Rape is RAPE. Regardless of the gender, color, economic status, or location of the victim. Lest we forget that many women are also victims of assault, in prison and otherwise. My heart goes out to ALL victims of these brutal attacks.

  • Christina79

    Why was my comment deleted?

    Men cannot be raped by the English definition of the word. Both Britain and the U.S. Justice Department define rape as "Male Perpetrated against a Female Victim". A man being sexually assaulted by another man is something entirely different.

    Men cannot be raped.

  • Scott H.S.

    Oh, Christina. Whether you consider it something different or not, it is rape. Again, as a victim of male-on-male rape, had you heard my cries, felt my pain, and dealt with the shame that even now I continue to feel, you would understand that rape is rape. Period. If we go back to the English way of life, women would still be barefoot and pregnant, cooking, cleaning and doing laundry as opposed to having careers and being strong members of our world. In old England, you would not be allowed to post a comment on this site simply because you are a female. Stop with the symantics and understand that any unwanted penetration on a male or female is rape.