Prison sexual assault victims can now petition for compassionate release

Sexual assault victims in prison can now petition for compassionate release, a recent change that has freed Aimee Chavira and may help others in similar situations.

Key change: In April, the U.S. Sentencing Commission voted to expand the bases for compassionate release to include sexual and physical assault by prison workers.
* Typically, compassionate release cases involve terminal illness or dire medical conditions.
* Chavira’s release raises hope for more women who were abused in the Dublin federal prison to be freed.

Background: A bipartisan probe found widespread sexual abuse by officers in federal prisons with few consequences for the abusers.
* Chavira suffered abuse in the Dublin prison, and her abusers included a warden who was later convicted of sexual abuse and lying to the FBI.
* Five other officials have been charged, resulting in one conviction so far.

Addressing the issue: The Department of Justice is taking steps to root out sexual assault within the Bureau of Prisons (BOP).
* The BOP is reviewing how wardens are selected and supervised, and installing more cameras in facilities.
* Advocates also call for independent oversight, and a bill has been proposed to create an ombudsman for the federal prison system.

View original article on NPR

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