Former Gov. Rick Perry a year ago defiantly told the U.S. attorney general that Texas would not fully comply with the Prison Rape Elimination Act, putting federal prison funding in jeopardy.
More important, his obstinacy left Texas prisoners in jeopardy of sexual assault.
Perry, calling the federal guidelines too costly and an infringement on states’ rights, said Texas would not raise the age (from 17 to 18) for considering a person an adult in the criminal justice system.
Thankfully, a bill is making its way through the Legislature to remove youths under 18 from incarceration with adults.
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Gov. Greg Abbott has said Texas intends to comply with the rape elimination law as much as possible. That’s not convincing.
Among other things, the federal law — signed by President George W. Bush in 2003 — requires federal, state and local institutions to conduct an audit to determine the incidence of rape and its consequences, to separate youth offenders from adults, and to prevent inmate body searches by guards of the opposite sex.
Texas has already missed the May 15 deadline for compliance. Abbott must waste no more time in helping prevent rape in Texas prisons.