Citing what he calls a “counterproductive and unnecessarily cumbersome and costly regulatory mess,” Texas Governor Rick Perry on Friday sent a three-page letter to US Attorney General Eric Holder declaring that Texas would not comply with the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA).
The Prison Rape Elimination Act was signed by President George W. Bush in 2003 with unanimous support from both parties in Congress. The purpose of the act was to “provide for the analysts of the incidence and effects of prison rape in Federal, State, and local institutions and to provide information, resources, recommendations and funding to protect individuals from prison rape.”
Scott over at Grits for Breakfast has acquired Perry's letter to Holder and excerpted it copiously.
Read more below the jump!In the letter, Perry cites operational obstacles to implementation of PREA. Perry complains that PREA standards on cross-gender viewing – the requirement that inmates be allowed to do things like shower and change without members of the opposite gender viewing them — are “ridiculous” and unworkable.
Governor Perry also complains that PREA, “infringes on Texas' right to establish the state's own age of criminal responsibility,” and that it would impose, “unacceptable” costs on Texas counties that would have to add more prison guards to meet PREA-defined staffing ratios. In Texas, unlike in most states, 17-year olds are considered adults, and PREA calls for separation of 17-year olds from 18-year olds.
Scott appropriately points out that “Perry's letter portrayed this as an Obama Administration initiative but really it's his Texas gubernatorial predecessor-turned-president whose policy he's snubbing.”
Lance Lowry, President of the AFSCME Local 3807, Texas Correctional Employees, responded to Perry's letter on Monday. Lowry raised the specters of federal EEOC discrimination lawsuits, increased liability, and he asserts that “…most of the PREA regulations could be easily adhered to if these male prisons were properly staffed. Texas prisons are currently over 3,000 officers short.” Scott Henson agrees with Lowry's basic assertion that understaffing is the chief barrier to implementation of PREA, but he doubts that there will be a significant increase in litigation.
Prison Legal News has posted a lengthy article on PREA.