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Civil rights group urges Texas to stop prison rape

The national LGBT civil rights group Lambda Legal has launched a petition drive calling on the state of Texas and Texas Gov.-elect Greg Abbott to implement and abide by the Prison Rape Elimination Act, the federal law signed by former President George W. Bush to address the problem of prison rape across the country.

Texas is one of only seven states that has refused to comply with PREA. Texas also is home to five of the 10 prisons with the highest rates of reported rapes in the country, as documented in a 2013 report by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics. It is widely understood that sexual violence in custody disproportionately affects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender inmates.

In October, Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Passion Star, a transgender African-American woman currently incarcerated in a men’s prison in Texas. Since entering Texas Department of Criminal Justice custody in 2002, Star has been raped and beaten, including a recent razor attack when her face was slashed multiple times by a man who told her that he “owned” her.

Corrections officials have ignored Star’s multiple requests for protection, according to Lambda.

Said Jael Humphrey, a Lambda Legal staff attorney, "Gov. Perry has refused to comply with PREA, and Texas is among the states leading the nation in rates of reported rapes in its prisons. Gov.-elect Abbott needs to fix this mistake and implement PREA. While Texas fiddles, LGBT inmates like Passion Star endure horrific violence and sexual abuse."

Star wrote from prison, "Somebody, somehow, needs to shed light on what is taking place here in Texas prisons. TDCJ officials get away with so much and disregard so many legitimate threats to people’s safety… I fight for my life every day in here. Safety from rape and assault is not a privilege; it’s a right."

The petition drive – the Campaign to Stop Prison Rape in Texas – will deliver signatures to the new governor when he assumes office.

On the Web…

The petition: 

The lawsuit: 

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