September 04, 2003


WASHINGTON D.C. – President George W. Bush signed into law the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 today, marking the first time the U.S. government has ever passed a law to deal with sexual assault behind bars.

“The passage of this law is a major milestone, finally bringing prisoner rape out of the shadows,” said Lara Stemple, executive director of Stop Prisoner Rape (SPR), a national human rights organization that has worked on the issue for more than two decades.

The law calls for the gathering of national statistics about the problem; the development of guidelines for states about how to address prisoner rape; the creation of a review panel to hold annual hearings; and the provision of grants to states to combat the problem.

It's not like it's going to solve the problem, but at least it puts it on the table.