Prison Law Blog

Sara Mayeux

Posts Tagged ‘bobby scott

House Approves a Blue-Ribbon Commission on Criminal Justice

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Today the House of Representatives approved legislation to create a national commission to offer reform recommendations on incarceration rates, sentencing policy, crime prevention, substance abuse, reentry, and more. The bill now depends the Senate where it has been introduced by Jim Webb of Virginia. (H/t: the Sentencing Project)

However, as Doug Berman points out, the major problem with criminal justice policy “is not a lack of good ideas, but a lack of leaders willing to help ensure good ideas become law.” This is certainly true not only on the federal level, but also on the state level (California has had one blue-ribbon commission after another making the exact same recommendations for 20 years, and little has changed). Maybe we need an expert commission to study why no one listens to expert commissions.

Written by sara

July 27, 2010 at 8:59 pm

House Holds Hearings on Prison Sexual Abuse

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And if the statistics in the BJS reports are not enough, I ask you to consider one of these children, who have been beaten, assaulted and raped with no recourse or power to stop it, what if that child was the child’s picture you carry in your pocketbook or wallet? … Perhaps then we would not continue to hold hearings, create another commission or issue more reports.

— Grace Bauer, prepared testimony for House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, Feb. 23, 2010.

Last month, the Bureau of Justice Statistics issued a troubling report showing that 12% of youth held in juvenile detention facilities report being the victim of sexual abuse, whether by other youth or staff. (New York Times columnist Ross Douthat covered this issue last week; the New York Review of Books published a lengthy discussion of the report here, and Public Criminology crunched the numbers here.) As I’ve blogged about before, the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 exacerbates the problem by making it very hard for juveniles who’ve been abused to seek judicial relief. The Prison Abuse Remedies Act (H.R. 4335), sponsored by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) and supported by the ACLU, would remove the PLRA’s procedural hurdles for juveniles under 18.

Yesterday, the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security held hearings on preventing sexual assault in juvenile and adult prisons. The witness list included American University law professor Brenda Smith; Troy Erik Isaac, who was raped while in juvenile custody in California (NPR interviewed him here); Bernard Warner, head of California’s juvenile justice system; Sheriff Gabriel Morgan of Newport News, Va.; and Grace Bauer, whose son was adjudicated delinquent and who works with the Campaign for Youth Justice. After the jump I’ll provide some highlights from their prepared testimony.

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