The Bureau of Prisons has agreed to increase its sexual harassment training and provide psychiatric and medical services to inmates who have been assaulted. Prison authorities will also institute a confidential system that will allow inmates to report attacks within the next six months and will stop housing women in the men’s Secure Housing Unit.
The agreement is part of a settlement from a lawsuit filed in August 1996 by three female inmates who charged that they were raped, attacked and sold by guards to male inmates for sex. The women, Robin Lucas, Valerie Mercadel and Raquel Douthit, sued prison authorities in Dublin, California, claiming that the officials knew about the sex-ring and did nothing, even after the women contacted them with their stories.
Plaintiffs’ attorney Geri Lynn Green said, “These women were being sold like sex slaves .... The guards took money from inmates in return for access to the women.”
The women will be paid a total of $500,000 in damages. The prison officials charged with committing the crimes quit or lost their jobs, but did not receive additional punishment.
10/31/2014 Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost.
The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
10/31/2014 Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1 - Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot.
SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
"We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event.
SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color. . . .
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .