“Our petition represents the voice of a public eager to reform Texas’s prisons. Rape is not an inevitable part of incarceration, but leadership is key. We are hopeful that Governor Abbott will do the right thing and take steps to implement PREA.”
With just one week remaining until the U.S. Justice Department’s May 15 deadline for the governors of all 50 states to confirm that their state is in compliance with the national standards set by the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), Lambda Legal Friday delivered nearly 10,000 signatures to Texas Governor Greg Abbott urging him to adopt the PREA’s standards unconditionally and acknowledge that sexual violence can no longer be accepted as part of the sentence served for any crime.
Following the delivery of the “Campaign to Stop Prison Rape in Texas” petitions Friday, Jael Humphrey, Lambda Legal Staff Attorney and Criminal Justice and Police Misconduct Strategist, said: “We have brought the voice of the public directly to Governor Abbott’s desk. Texas is among the states with the highest rates of rape and sexual assault in its prisons. This violence disproportionately affects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. LGBT people in Texas prisons, like Lambda Legal client Passion Star, live with the risk of sexual violence every day.”
Humphrey added, “Rape is not an inevitable part of incarceration, but leadership is key. PREA provides a framework to end sexual violence in Texas prisons and jails. Our petition represents the voice of a public eager to reform Texas’s prisons. We are hopeful that Governor Abbott will do the right thing and take steps to implement PREA.”
In October 2014, Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Passion Star, a Black transgender woman currently incarcerated in a men’s prison in Texas. Since entering the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) custody in 2002, Star has been raped, forced to submit to undesired sexual acts to escape violence, and threatened with sexual assault. She has filed dozens of grievances and repeatedly begged for help, but instead of taking measures to protect her, TDCJ officials have told her to “suck dick,” “fight” or to stop “acting gay” if she did not want to be assaulted.
In multiple prisons, Star was placed in the general population in close proximity to inmates who she had identified as having threatened her, including one occasion in November 2013 where the identified inmate then attacked Star, calling her a “snitching faggot,” and slashed her face eight times with a razor.
Asked what she would say to Governor Abbott ahead of the May 15 deadline, Star said: “We need something like PREA to change the culture of prisons in the state of Texas. If Texas was doing everything they say that they’re doing to stop [rape] from happening, then there’s no point in turning down PREA. I don’t want to have sex to be safe. I shouldn’t have to.”