Indiana Governor Refuses To Follow Rules Designed To Prevent Prison Rape

CREDIT: AP Photo/Darron Cummings

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R)

Complying with federal standards designed to prevent incarcerated people from being raped is too expensive, according to Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R). So Pence informed the federal Justice Department that his state will not comply with these anti-rape standards.

In refusing to comply with the anti-rape rules, Pence joins Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), who also announced that his state will not follow the federal standards last April, despite the fact that five of the nation’s ten worst prison facilities for sexual assaults are in Texas. The rules require teens to be separated from adults, they call for cross-gender pat-downs to be eliminated in teen and juvenile facilities, and they require a certain number of staff in juvenile facilities.

States can evade the rules in large part because the consequences of refusing to comply are relatively small. Indiana will will lose a small chunk of federal funding — according to the state’s own estimate, about $345,000 a year — because they will not comply with the anti-rape rules. Meanwhile, the state estimates that it would need to pay millions of dollars to hire the staff needed to comply with the rules.

A 2010 Justice Department study found that nearly 1 in 8 detained youths are sexually abused during their incarceration. According to Just Detention International, a group working to end prison rape, “[o]n any given day, there are approximately 93,000 youth confined in juvenile facilities, more than half of whom are 16 or younger.” That means that more than 11,000 of these youth will be sexually assaulted before their release.