Skip to content

Schatz, Cornyn Introduce Bipartisan Bill To Provide Support Services For Incarcerated Survivors Of Sexual Abuse

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) today introduced bipartisan legislation to fund free confidential support services to incarcerated survivors of sexual abuse and harassment. Many correctional facilities are reluctant to fund support programs or collaborate with outside partners willing to offer these services. This new program would ensure that survivors in prisons across the country have access to important emotional support services.

“Sexual abuse can take a real toll on survivors' mental and emotional health, but counseling can help people recover from this trauma,” said Senator Schatz. “Our bill will make sure these support services for incarcerated survivors are free and confidential.”

“Victims of sexual abuse in our nation’s prisons must be given the same resources as anyone else who experiences this trauma,” said Senator Cornyn. “This bill would ensure incarcerated individuals can receive counseling while also funding education and training for correctional institutions.”

In 2020, Schatz and Cornyn, leading voices on preventing sexual assault in prisons, wrote a letter to the Director of the Bureau of Prisons to express their concern that rampant sexual abuse in federal correctional facilities has gone largely underreported. Incarcerated people are far less likely to report incidents of sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and rape through official channels due to fear of retaliation by other inmates, correctional officers, or prison staff. This means that confidential resources are essential to ensuring that incarcerated survivors have access to emotional support services.

Schatz and Cornyn’s Sexual Abuse Services in Detention Act would create a grant program to fund emotional support services for sexual abuse survivors in detention facilities, including telephone hotline services and crisis intervention services.

The bill would also fund training for correctional agencies, facilities, and staff to help them better provide emotional support services for incarcerated victims. And it would create a national resource center to provide guidance, training, and best practices on emotional support services for incarcerated victims.

The Sexual Abuse Services in Detention Act has been endorsed by Just Detention International (JDI) and the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN).