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Jul-13-2012 16:01printcomments

End the Prison Rape of Immigrant Families

US should implement the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) in immigration.

Prison rape

(SALEM) - Prison rape is an ugly subject, but its worst manifestation occurs when the victims are innocent of their crimes in the first place, or when they are human beings whose only crime was a search for a better life.

This all too often, has been the story of the illegal immigrant family seeking an escape from the crime and poverty of their homelands; places uninhabitable by people simply trying to raise families and simultaneously protect them.

People don't ask to be born in these places, it just happens. Even the simplest of minds can understand that- unless they possessed by people who are so blinded with nationalism or bigotry or low intelligence that they are literally incapable.

Their opinions are not what we should concern ourselves with.

Moreover, the people who end up being raped or gang-raped in prison, are often fleeing crimes tied to the drug trade that are a result of the demand of U.S. consumers in the first place, and the archaic legal regulations ranging from pot laws to NAFTA and the drug war itself.

Along with 45 other organizations, Human Rights Watch is asking Secretary Janet Napolitano and the Department of Homeland Security to develop and implement strong, comprehensive standards by utilizing the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) in immigration facilities.

It is a matter of human decency; the government of the United States has no right to subject human beings to unregulated sexual abuse and torture; particularly those who suffer from the isolation of language barriers and a general lack of sympathy that stems from dehumanizing people over their birthplace

This letter from our Human Rights Ambassador, William Gomes, is a plea for human decency and there is no excuse for this rule not already aiding these inmate victims.

July 13, 2012

The Honorable Janet Napolitano
Secretary of Homeland Security
US Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528

Re: US: Homeland Security develop strong, comprehensive standards to implement the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) in immigration facilities
Dear Secretary Napolitano:
I am William Nicholas Gomes, Human Rights Ambassador for
I have been informed that Human Rights Watch and 45 other organizations sent a letter to Secretary Janet Napolitano , urging the Department of Homeland Security to develop strong, comprehensive standards to implement the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) in immigration facilities.

I am writing to you supporting the development of comprehensive standards by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to implement the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA).

As noted in the May 17th White House memorandum to the heads of executive departments and agencies, President Obama directed “all agencies with Federal confinement facilities that are not already subject to the Department of Justice’s final [PREA] rule to work with the Attorney General to propose, within 120 days of the date of this memorandum, any rules or procedures necessary to satisfy the requirements of PREA and to finalize any such rules or procedures within 240 days of their proposal.”

I am encouraged to hear from DHS that it plans to implement PREA through formal rulemaking. No internal policy or procedures would be sufficient to provide the protections detailed in PREA and reflected in the final Department of Justice (DOJ) standards.

I am also encouraged to hear that the regulations being developed by DHS will cover detainees in both Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody. ICE’s most recent Performance-Based National Detention Standards (PBNDS) are, of course, limited to ICE facilities and troublingly exempt short-term hold facilities from their sexual abuse prevention standards. This exemption violates the intent of PREA, which explicitly sought to cover lockups (see also the comprehensive final DOJ standards for lockups). ICE’s PBNDS, while an improvement over past ICE standards, fall short of the protections called for in PREA. The fact that the PBNDS are not in effect in all ICE facilities also leaves many ICE detainees without protections required by PREA.

As I recognize the compressed time frame faced by DHS for the development of its proposed standards, I would like to draw attention to some of my major concerns related to the development of these standards.

The comprehensive standards issued on May 17th are a product of almost a decade of work by the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission (NPREC) and the Department of Justice. There is no way that DHS will be able to duplicate the scope of this effort in one year. Because the PBNDS are not comprehensive and vary from the DOJ standards, they should not serve as the model for drafting regulations. For these reasons, I urge DHS to use the DOJ standards as a template for its own standards. There is no reason that the proposed DHS standards should not track closely to the DOJ standards, and there should be a strong presumption against varying from them. I also recommend that when DHS determines it is necessary to deviate from the DOJ final standards, it clearly justify the deviations to allow for informed and constructive commentary.

Closely hewing to the final DOJ standards would recognize how extensively NPREC and DOJ worked to develop the standards. It would also emphasize the importance of consistent treatment of immigration detainees. Detainees are often transferred between facilities—they may be held through an Intergovernmental Service Agreement (IGSA) in a county jail that follows the DOJ PREA standards and then be transferred to dedicated immigration facilities that will soon apply DHS standards. Vastly different standards (for example, different grievance and reporting processes, screening, or staff training) between facilities that detain immigrants will undercut the protections of PREA. Detainees cannot be expected to be aware of shifting rights between facilities. Asthe National Sheriffs’ Association advised Congress, “DHS PREA standards need to be consistent with [the Department of Justice’s] PREA standards. This would ensure that there are not differing standards for jails based on where the federal, state, or local detainees are held, as well as help with the swift and successful implementation of final PREA standards.”[1]

Moreover, DHS holds many detainees in county jails through IGSAs. Yet PREA does not contain noncompliance sanctions for county jails that fail to adopt or implement rape elimination standards. Immigration detainees could therefore be completely excluded from PREA protections depending on the facility where they are held. DHS has the means to avoid this gap in protection. DHS should propose a regulation stating that it will not contract with any facilities that do not implement DOJ PREA protections. In addition, DHS should include acceptance of its forthcoming PREA regulations as a condition of every contract renegotiation it undertakes, including those that precede issuance of the final rule.

I would like to meet with you or your staff to discuss these recommendations in further detail, prior to the issuance of the Department’s draft standards. Please have your staff contact William Nicholas Gomes, E-mail:,,


William Nicholas Gomes
Human Rights Ambassador for

cc: Cecilia Muñoz, Director, White House Domestic Policy Council
Lynn Rosenthal, White House Advisor on Violence Against Women
Tyler Moran, Senior Advisor for Immigration Policy, White House Domestic Policy Council
John Morton, Director, ICE
John Sandweg, Senior Counselor to the Secretary, DHS
Seth Grossman, Chief of Staff, Office of the General Counsel, DHS

[1] Letter from the National Sheriffs’ Association to Senators Patrick Leahy and Mike Crapo, February 1, 2012, (accessed June 5, 2012).

______________________________ Human Rights Ambassador William Nicholas Gomes is a Bangladeshi journalist, human rights activist and author was born on 25 December, 1985 in Dhaka. As an investigative journalist he wrote widely for leading European and Asian media outlets.

He is also active in advocating for free and independent media and journalists’ rights, and is part of the free media movement, Global Independent Media Center – an activist media network for the creation of radical, accurate, and passionate telling of the truth. He worked for Italian news agency from year 2009 to 2011, on that time he was accredited as a free lance journalist by the press information department of Bangladesh. During this time he has reported a notable numbers of reports for the news agency which were translated into Chinese and Italian and quoted by notable number of new outlets all over the world.He, ideologically, identifies himself deeply attached with anarchism. His political views are often characterized as “leftist” or “left-wing,” and he has described himself as an individualist anarchist.



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Anonymous July 14, 2012 12:59 am (Pacific time)

How about this: leave your butt in your Country and don't come to our Country illegal. It is a crime even so our dumb liberal Marxist Government think so. They did commit a crime. No crime no prison. Do you liberal thugs know what happen if you get caught illegal in Mexico? it's heaven here that's for sure. It's bad enough we have to spend our tax dollars for this illegal trash. Alright, go ahead, call me racist I don't really give a damn

Luke Easter July 13, 2012 7:47 pm (Pacific time)

Hate to be the barer of bad news. But, as the U.S. Army did not, would not protect
LaVena Lynn Johnson or even try to hide the fact superior officers and
the DOJ covered up her rape/murder by labeling it a suicide, well…
Even Human Trafficking is flourishing because only those who have $$$ and plenty of $$$ are able to purchase, "sex slaves." It's all about enjoyment for the powerful and until the 2nd Coming of Christ it will never change. Where is Lorena Bobbit when you need her?

Editor: Amen to that last line, but let's never lose hope, thanks Luke!

Dexter July 13, 2012 6:30 pm (Pacific time)

F*cking "A" and rightly so. Well put YKW. Tim get this guy on the staff page. So far everything I have read when it comes to his comments , hits the nail right in the head.

Tim King: He's totally with us and on the staff page, I also have a front page feature item that we will use from time to time.  He is teaching me a great deal, beautiful evolution.

You know who you are July 13, 2012 6:00 pm (Pacific time)

Exactly . Myself saying poetic justice does not mean to say I agree with that. What you have just said on the reply is what I was referring to 100 percent . Think of the audacity of them releasing such people out after knowing they have done such a vile act is frighting . By letting this happen in jails or prisons will not improve the person that is being released (wether it be the perpetrator or the victim . I think the prison itself should take responsibility for their so called Rehabilitation act. The reason over 50 percent reoffend is because of the in-house treatment of the Prison itself . Then they wonder why everything goes so wrong ??!!. I think places like this , the same goes for foster care and so on should be strictly evaluated (non government related)n.If those people lose control for psychological reasons due to their environment, I think the people responsible for looking after them should take take the rap .
Psychological evaluation should also be included when it comes to people being released (by an independent entity ) . Prisons are just not regulated enough to insure that these people , wether guilty or not are mentally sane when being released . And if not , like I said before , those people should have a right to take action against that prison.

Tim I did not mean to say the prisoners were wrong, I meant to say the same as you just suggested

Tim King:  Absolutely, I just thought it was good to clarify as you are here, but I understand you were relaying information, so all good, thanks!

You know who you are July 13, 2012 4:25 pm (Pacific time)

The reason Prisons let this happen "and prison guards witness this all the time" while being told to not say anything is because it's what they call poetic justice . The justification too the prison network behaving in such a way is " self punishment" . They look at this as an "inside" punishment that basically takes care of the prison wardens job of doing anything sadistic back at their prisoners. Call it self gratification "in their eyes" .

Check this out.
I found this that was rather intriguing.

Editor: I don't doubt that this is allowed to happen, nor do I question whether or not every single person in the system is a more disgusting criminal for this behavior than any people they supervise.  One thing is certain, it is not anything close to poetic and it is also not what I could view as anything close to justice.  What I really think, is that the prison guards like it; I suspect that they enjoy knowing this type of torture is taking place.  I believe there is a place in hell specifically for criminal cops and prison guards- that is their destiny and it makes time on earth look brief..

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