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How the Prison Rape Elimination Act Helps LGBT Immigrants in Detention

NCJ Number
Sharita Gruberg
Date Published
April 2014
8 pages
This report reviews and assesses the history of efforts to counter the sexual abuse of detained immigrants - with attention to the most at-risk detainees, i.e., LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) immigrants - both before and after the enactment of the Federal Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) and the promulgation of its standards for implementation in immigrant detention facilities of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the cabinet department under which ICE operates, published standards in early March 2014 for the application of PREA provisions in ICE detention facilities. The standards establish "zero tolerance" for the sexual abuse of immigrants in ICE detention facilities and are intended to prevent, detect, and respond to sexual abuse and assault in these facilities. These standards, however, will only have an impact if they are effectively implemented, and there is still some uncertainty about their application to those ICE detention facilities operated by private companies. This report argues that although the PREA standards are a first step, additional measures are still required to protect LGBT immigrants from sexual victimization in detention. In order to ensure the protection of LGBT individuals, they should be released or placed in alternatives to detention whenever possible. Detention should be limited to those circumstances in which it is mandatory under the law. 46 notes