The National Prison Rape Elimination Commission
The National Prison Rape Elimination Commission (NPREC) was a bipartisan panel created by Congress and charged with studying government policies and practices related to the prevention, detection, response and monitoring of sexual abuse in all forms of detention facilities in the United States. In June of 2009, NPREC recommended comprehensive national standards to reduce prison rape.
In 2006, The Raben Group was hired to provide outreach, strategic communications, and coalition-building support to NPREC, an eight-member federal commission led by U.S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton. The Commission’s charge: to produce a first-of-its-kind report on the causes and consequences of prison rape in all categories of U.S. facilities, and to make wide-ranging recommendations to the U.S. Attorney General for ending sexual abuse behind bars.
Our objective was to help the Commission develop the necessary substantive understanding of the problem to craft effective recommendations, and to generate the requisite public, political and media support to ensure that the NPREC proposals became law.
For more than three years, our team worked with the commissioners and their staff to create and manage a broad, transparent process to gather data from a broad spectrum of stakeholders, including corrections officials, prison rape survivors, medical professionals, law enforcement personnel, policymakers and many others. We helped conduct eight public hearings across the nation focusing on diverse topics and managed a process including hundreds of stakeholder interviews. A major goal of our work was to guarantee that support for the Commission’s eventual recommendations was both deep and wide, ranging from Christian evangelicals to progressive advocacy groups.
At the same time, we served as the Commission’s principal liaison to members of Congress of both parties and to the Bush and Obama Administrations. We also offered comprehensive strategic communications counsel, including media relations and press event management.
In June of 2009, the Commission released a 250-page report on sexual violence in U.S. facilities and a comprehensive blueprint for reform to a standing-room-only audience at the National Press Club. The Commission’s work was featured in glowing, same-day editorials by the New York Times and the Washington Post and received extensive national press coverage.