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Petition drive urges Texas governor-elect to implement PREA

DALLAS, Texas -- Lambda Legal today 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 (PREA), 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 is also 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 (LGBT) inmates.

In October 2014, Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Passion Star, and transgender African-American woman currently incarcerated in a men’s prison in Texas. Since entering Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) custody in 2002, Passion 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. TDCJ officials have ignored Passion’s multiple requests for protection.

“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. Governor-elect Abbott needs to fix this mistake and implement PREA,” Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Jael Humphrey said. “While Texas fiddles, LGBT inmates like Passion Star endure horrific violence and sexual abuse.”

As Passion Star wrote from prison when Lambda Legal filed its lawsuit: “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.

Individuals who want to sign the petition should visit HERE.

More information about the lawsuit is available HERE.