Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Pence Opts Out of Federal Law Designed to Prevent Prison Sexual Assaults

Gov. Mike Pence
Forty-three states told the federal government that they would comply with federal law meant to curb prison rape in the U.S. correctional system. Indiana was one of seven that said no.

Governor Mike Pence announced via a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder that Indiana would be opting out of the federal law due to cost, and that made lawmakers like Rep. Christina Hale (D-Indianapolis) mad.

Speaking at the Indiana Democratic Convention on Saturday, Hale roundly ripped the Governor saying his move was wrong for Indiana and that it was shortsighted. “It’s our hope that someday these individuals will come back having served their time and become constructive members of our society, but Governor Pence’s decision only assures us that many will be more angry and more bitter.”

Hale said it shouldn’t be a matter of cost but just a matter of staffing. Part of the federal law states that those incarcerated should only be undressing in front of same gender guards, for example. “It’s a matter of staff rotation and not a matter of staffing.”

Indiana says that it would cost $15 to $20 million in new staffing and equipment, according to the IndyStar’s John Tuohy. The cost for not complying with the law is around $350,000 in lost federal funding.

To me, this is a human rights issue. Indiana should be utilizing some of its billions in surplus dollars to comply with this federal mandate. Apparently, Governor Pence is okay with the culture of prisoner abuse and rape that is not only happening in our correctional facilities but, according to some, is very prevalent.  So much for compassionate conservatism for Governor Pence!

One final thing:
Advance Indiana's Gary Welsh points out that this federal statute passed unanimously in Congress when Mike Pence was there!

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