City Bar Comments on Implementation of Prison Rape Elimination Act in NYC Jails

The New York City Bar Association has written in support of the authority of the New York City Board of Correction to adopt rules that revise the Minimum Standards of the Board to address sexual abuse of people detained in city jails. The Committee generally supports the rules as an important first step in reducing the incidence of sexual abuse in city jails, providing for access to more services for survivors of sexual abuse, and increasing accountability for those who sexually abuse people in city jails.

The Board’s rules reflect the intent to codify the Federal Prison Rape Elimination Act standards in city law, which will provide for more enforcement, monitoring and accountability.

The Committee also recommends that the Board amend the rules in two areas: first, urging that the New York City Department of Investigation (as opposed to DOC officials) conduct all investigations related to sexual abuse allegations in city jails, and second, creating a rule to prohibit DOC from making housing decisions based solely on an individual’s genitalia or sex at birth, so that DOC housing decisions may include housing the person according to their gender identity. The latter recommendation is based on data showing that people who are transgender and exclusively housed in jail facilities that match only their sex assigned at birth are at much higher risk of sexual violence compared to their cisgender counterparts.

The letter can be read here: