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Reform Jewish Leader Commends Congress on Passage of the Prison Rape Reduction Act

Pelavin: We hope and pray that this legislation will make a significant contribution toward eliminating prison rape and we urge the President to promptly sign this bill into law.


Contact:
Barbara Weinstein or Becca Nagorsky 202-387-2800

WASHINGTON, July 31, 2003 - In response to Congressional passage of the Prison Rape Reduction Act (H.R.1707/S.1435), Mark Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism issued the following statement:

Last Friday, the House passed the Prison Rape Reduction Act (H.R. 1707), companion legislation to S. 1435, which the Senate passed on July 21st, and the Reform Jewish Movement applauds this important step toward eliminating the scourge of rape in the American prison system. We also take this opportunity to thank Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) for their critical leadership on this issue.

According to the findings in the House bill, more than 13% of the 2 million prisoners in the U.S. will experience sexual assault during their prison term. Prison rape plays a significant role in the spread of sexually transmitted disease and also clearly contributes to the likelihood that offenders will commit new crimes after they are released. This bill provides funding for prison rape prevention programs in federal, state and local prisons and also requires the Justice Department to collect statistics on prison rape.

Jewish tradition teaches that each human being is created in the image of God, and that therefore, each life is of infinite value. This imposes upon us the obligation to uphold the dignity of all people, to recognize the potential in all for redemption, and to protect the most vulnerable, including those serving prison sentences.

We commend Congress for taking action to uphold the dignity of the prison population and to defend their rights to personal safety. We hope and pray that this legislation will make a significant contribution toward eliminating prison rape and we urge the President to promptly sign this bill into law.

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose over 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis(CCAR) whose membership includes over 1800 Reform rabbis.



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