Just Detention International

Rape is not part of the penalty

aka Just Detention International   |   Los Angeles, CA   |  http://www.justdetention.org

Mission

Just Detention International is a health and human rights organization that seeks to end sexual abuse in all forms of detention. Founded by a survivor of prisoner rape in 1980, JDI is the only organization in the world dedicated exclusively to ending sexual abuse behind bars. JDI works to: hold government officials accountable for prisoner rape; promote public attitudes that value the dignity and safety of people in detention; and ensure that survivors of this violence get the help they need.

Ruling year info

1997

Executive Director

Linda McFarlane

Main address

3325 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 340

Los Angeles, CA 90010 USA

Show more contact info

Formerly known as

Stop Prisoner Rape

EIN

13-3711840

NTEE code info

Civil Rights, Social Action, and Advocacy N.E.C. (R99)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (F01)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

When the government takes away someone’s freedom, it takes on an absolute responsibility to keep that person safe. No matter what the crime, rape is not part of the penalty. And yet, in the U.S. today — the richest country in the world, a nation founded on the principles of equality and the rule of law — sexual violence in detention constitutes a nationwide crisis. More than 200,000 people are sexually abused every year in U.S. prisons, jails, and youth facilities. Despite this crisis, JDI is the only organization in the country — and the world — dedicated to ending rape behind bars.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Policy Advocacy

JDI fights for laws and policies to end prisoner rape — and puts these rules into practice. Our efforts go far beyond fixing bad policies. We change the culture of prisons and jails, so that every person can keep their dignity while serving time.

We change attitudes and conditions that make people unsafe — like sexually harassing language and routine humiliation of gay and transgender inmates. We teach staff how to respond to abuse with professionalism and compassion, helping them recognize that building inmates’ trust in staff keeps everyone safer.

We make sure prisoners get help for any sexual abuse they have experienced, no matter when or where it occurred. For it’s a sad fact that U.S. prisons are filled with men and women who endured devastating trauma before they were ever locked up. Trapped in violent facilities, they suffer additional pain that makes it nearly impossible to return home successfully upon their release.

JDI’s advocacy has led to unprecedented changes. We reversed a federal rule that blocked rape crisis centers from helping prisoners; we crafted policies to prevent sexual abuse in immigration facilities; and we won vital protections for LGBT inmates. We make sure that everyone whose job it is to keep inmates safe — at the federal, state, and local levels — takes that responsibility seriously and is held accountable.

One of our signature victories was the release of binding national standards to address sexual abuse in detention. Issued by the Department of Justice in 2012, these standards spell out lifesaving reforms — such as safe housing for transgender prisoners, access to confidential counseling for rape survivors, and limits to invasive pat searches.

We helped craft these standards, and set out to prove that they work. We go inside facilities; from a small lockup in Washington State, to the massive jail in downtown Miami, to state prisons in California, Georgia, and South Carolina — to name a few. We train prison officials on how to prevent and respond to sexual abuse — and teach inmates about their right to be safe and how to get help if they are not.

Population(s) Served
Incarcerated people

Sexual abuse in detention is a global crisis, requiring a global response. That’s why JDI is an international organization. Whether working with Mexican corrections officials, medical officers of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Filipino legislators, or public health advocates in Jamaica, we provide unique expertise that saves lives.

JDI's international work is especially focused on South Africa. Sexual violence is rampant in South African prisons, fueled by a prison culture that celebrates homophobia and misogyny. Gay and transgender inmates, and anyone viewed as “unmanly,” are ruthlessly targeted. Overall, prison conditions are dire, with cells designed for 40 inmates holding closer to 100. During “lock-up,” from around 3:00 pm until 7:00 am the next day, inmates are locked into communal cells, leaving vulnerable prisoners at the mercy of gangs and cell bosses.

In 2004, three officers at Pollsmoor prison in Cape Town formed a group called Friends Against Abuse. They were appalled by their prison’s high level of sexual violence — and by the indifference among their colleagues. Desperate for help, they did a Google search and found the only organization in the world dedicated to ending prisoner rape: JDI. A surprise email from Friends Against Abuse marked the beginning of our international expansion.

Since then, JDI has become a leader in the fight to stop prisoner rape in South Africa. While Friends Against Abuse was soon forced to close down, its founders remain JDI partners to this day. Working side-by-side with them, JDI has spent years training corrections officials, advocating for prison oversight, building crisis counseling services for prisoners, and gathering testimonies from rape survivors.

JDI’s accomplishments have been dramatic, but it hasn’t always been smooth sailing. We drafted a groundbreaking sexual abuse policy for the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) — a roadmap for stopping prisoner rape — only to see the policy’s implementation stall. When faced with DCS’ byzantine bureaucracy, rather than standing idly by we did what we do best: we kept fighting. We secured permission to test the policy at one prison: Leeuwkop Correctional Centre in Johannesburg.

JDI’s work in South Africa epitomizes who we are. We take on the toughest battles, we insist that sexual abuse is preventable — even in a prison system as troubled as South Africa’s — and we don’t quit, ever. In 2013, affirming our commitment to building local capacity in South Africa, we created an independent organization: JDI-South Africa, with an office in Johannesburg.

Population(s) Served
Incarcerated people

Every year, JDI receives more than 2,000 letters from incarcerated rape survivors. Many tell us about years of fruitless attempts to get help, of writing letter after letter to lawyers, advocates, even government officials. In the rare cases when they got a response, it was merely a confirmation of any survivor’s worst fear — no help was available.

JDI has a different approach to survivor letters. We respond to every single person who writes to us — always. We send self-help materials about common reactions to abuse, the healing process, and prisoners’ rights. Whenever possible, we refer survivors to local organizations that serve prisoners. In many cases, we advocate for individual inmates by contacting wardens, mental health staff, prison ombudspersons, and oversight agencies.

Again and again, survivors tell us that JDI is a lifeline. Johanna Hudnall, who was raped by a California prison official, is one of them: “I truly believe that JDI saved my life. When I was alone and at my worst, JDI wrote back and let me know that they cared. They believed me. I learned that the assault wasn’t my fault. I had the right to be safe.”

All sexual abuse survivors, including prisoners, need and deserve compassionate support. We will never ignore anyone who reaches out to us for help.

JDI has responded to letters from prisoner rape survivors for decades. But, just like survivors in the community, inmates who have been sexually assaulted often need to meet face-to-face with an advocate who’s there just for them. When rape crisis centers aren’t able to provide such services, JDI steps in.

The California Institution for Women (CIW), a large prison east of Los Angeles, is a case in point. After lengthy negotiations, JDI convinced CIW to allow outside counselors to offer confidential in-person counseling — but the local rape crisis center wouldn’t work inside the prison. Refusing to leave behind some of the most marginalized sexual abuse survivors in Southern California, JDI set up our own counseling program.

Now, JDI staff are inside CIW several days a week, offering one-on-one and group counseling, running trauma-informed art workshops, and providing wellness classes on topics the women themselves have identified. Within weeks of launching our work at CIW, our counselor had a one-year waiting list. So we are adding a second counselor and a social work intern to reach more women in need. We even started working inside CIW’s solitary confinement wing — unprecedented for an outside organization.

Prison is a world unto itself, closed off from outside scrutiny, and from outside help. Without support, inmates’ sense of isolation can be overwhelming, especially in the aftermath of a sexual assault. Survivors on the outside can call a rape crisis hotline, but complicated prison phone systems and thorny negotiations with officials make it extremely difficult for rape crisis centers to set up confidential hotlines for survivors in prison.

In response to a dire need, JDI worked with the Michigan Department of Corrections to create the first-ever crisis hotline that is exclusively for incarcerated sexual abuse survivors. Staffed by JDI, the hotline, An Inside Line, is free and completely confidential.

We are committed to establishing programs in prisons and jails so that survivors get the help they need, right now — and also to pave the way for rape crisis centers to replicate these programs and expand their services for prisoners. When we are faced with people who have been brutalized while in the government’s custody and who have nowhere to turn, we simply must find a way to help.

JDI believes that rape survivors in detention should be able to get the same services as survivors on the outside, including medical care, access to legal resources, and confidential counseling. But the idea of working with prisoners is new for many rape crisis centers. Prisons are an unfamiliar setting for counselors who are used to working with survivors on the outside, and incarcerated survivors often have distinct and complex needs.

JDI works hard to help rape crisis centers launch services for prisoners. In 2005, we pioneered the first-ever program that brought community based rape crisis counselors into a prison. Since then, we have trained thousands of counselors on the dynamics of prisoner rape and helped them build strong, lasting partnerships with their local corrections agencies.

Population(s) Served
Incarcerated people

Many people believe sexual abuse in detention is inevitable, as much a part of prison life as barbed wire and cell blocks. Some even think that anyone who breaks the law deserves this punishment. As the saying goes, “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.” These harmful attitudes are fueled by portrayals of prison life in pop culture. Television and films often take for granted that people are raped in prison or, even worse, use this violence as a punchline.

At JDI, we believe that common stereotypes about prisoner rape — and prisoners themselves — are an obstacle to ending this crisis. We combat ill-informed views by providing clear, fact-based analysis that is grounded in human rights principles. In so doing, we promote public attitudes that recognize prisoner rape as a serious — and preventable — crisis, and which value the safety and dignity of all people.

The best way to shed light on the reality of rape behind bars is to hear from survivors themselves. We help prisoner rape survivors amplify their voices by publishing their accounts on our website and sharing their stories in popular media outlets. Survivors’ first-hand accounts illustrate the human cost of this crisis with greater clarity than any press release or policy paper ever could. With our support, survivors have become leading advocates for change, educating policymakers, the press, and the public about sexual abuse in detention — and what can be done to stop it.

Population(s) Served
Incarcerated people
Victims and oppressed people

Where we work

Accreditations

Charity Navigator 2018

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

JDI works inside detention facilities across the country to develop policies and programs that keep people safe from sexual abuse.

Every day, JDI gets letters from prisoners who have been sexually assaulted. We respond to each survivor who contacts us, letting them know that they are not alone, that the abuse was not their fault, and that healing is possible. To help them cope and rebuild their lives, JDI has developed a Survivor Packet, which includes Hope for Healing, our self-help guide; contact information for local rape crisis centers and legal aid organizations; and a letter of hope from another prisoner rape survivor.

JDI also trains rape crisis counselors to help survivors inside prisons and jails — a setting where many counselors have limited experience. We helped make sure that national standards for prisons and jails addressing sexual abuse, released in 2012, require detention facilities to work with community-based organizations to offer crisis counseling and follow-up care to survivors. We believe that survivors in detention should be able to get the same help and care that is available to those on the outside.

We work with policymakers, advocates, and corrections officials to protect the basic human rights of people in detention, in the U.S. and globally. All of our work is informed by the wisdom and experiences of prisoner rape survivors. We go inside facilities every day to talk directly with prisoners and staff about what they really need to be safe.

The opportunity to make real, meaningful change inside prisons and jails is made possible by the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) standards. We fought long, hard, and successfully for strong PREA standards, which outline the minimum steps that corrections staff must take to prevent and respond to sexual abuse in their facilities. Since their release, we have joined forces with corrections agencies that are committed to adopting these lifesaving rules. JDI emphasizes that the PREA standards are a solid foundation — a starting point, but not an end point — for corrections staff to build upon to keep the people in their custody safe.

Financials

Just Detention International
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Just Detention International

Board of directors
as of 8/6/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Russell Robinson

No Affiliation

Russell Robinson

Board Chair

Kate Summers

Board Member

Hector Villagra

Board Member

Lovisa Stannow

Secretary

Dawn Davison

Treasurer

Andrea Marra

Board Member

Deirdre von Dornum

Board Member

Faiza Ambah

Board Member

Haim Pekelis

Board Member

Melinda Lemoine

Board Member

Michael Amherst

Board Member

Alexandra Chasin

Board Member

Deborah Colson

Board Member

Hussein Khalifa

Board Member

John Johnson

Board Member

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes