Guest / Limited Access /

Prison reform is a necessary component of the Christian command to protect the defenseless, according to faith leaders from Prison Fellowship and the National Association of Evangelicals. Critics say recent attempts at reform by the Justice Department do not go far enough to address the problem of sexual abuse in the U.S. correctional system.

A panel of experts, along with a diverse group of supporters that includes the American Civil Liberties Union, Church of Scientology, and George Soros's Open Society Institute, are protesting the Justice Department's new prison rape prevention standards, which will take effect April 4.

The new standards will allow already-troubled prisons to police themselves and do not require any enforcement mechanism, critics say. The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reported in August 2010 that 88,500 "incidents of sexual victimization" occurred in U.S. prisons over a 12 month period, up from about 60,500 the year before. That breaks down to more than 240 sexual assaults a day of inmates in every level of the federal correctional system.

The prison culture does not welcome transparency, according to Pat Nolan, vice president of the prison outreach organization Prison Fellowship and a member of the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission. The commission was federally appointed in 2003, as part of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), to provide recommendations to the Attorney General meant to improve standards guarding against the sexual assault of prisoners in the U.S.

"It's a culture we need to change," Nolan said. "It's absolutely a barrier to presenting the gospel, and also in a way it's a test of our credibility. If all we do is hand them tracts but turn a blind eye to their suffering, that's ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Current IssueA Tale of Two Calvary Chapels: Behind the Movement’s Split
Subscriber Access Only
A Tale of Two Calvary Chapels: Behind the Movement’s Split
Chuck Smith’s successor says he is expanding founder’s vision. Other leaders say he’s diluting it.
RecommendedMaking Married Sex Mutual
Making Married Sex Mutual
Pervasive ideologies distort our view of female sexuality. God’s Word shows us a better way.
TrendingTrump Adviser’s Megachurch Withholds Major Donation from SBC
Trump Adviser’s Megachurch Withholds Major Donation from SBC
Prestonwood Baptist diverts denominational giving over concerns about Russell Moore’s ERLC.
Editor's PickWhy Africa Needed Its Own Study Bible
Why Africa Needed Its Own Study Bible
And why Americans might want one too.
Christianity Today
Group Criticizes Attorney General's Proposed Prison Rape ...
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

March 2011

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.