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Deputy Attorney General James Cole / Alex Wong, Getty Images

WASHINGTON - Seven states, including Arizona, Florida and Texas, face cuts in federal criminal justice grant funding for declining to comply or provide assurances that they would abide by terms of a federal law aimed at reducing prison rape.

States and U.S. territories had until May 15 to provide the Justice Department with assurances that they would comply with conditions of the law or lose 5% of grant funds.

"I must be clear that the jurisdictions that do not comply with the standards ? will be held accountable, as we are required to by law,'' Deputy Attorney General James Cole said Wednesday, referring to the Prison Rape Elimination Act passed unanimously in 2003 and signed into law by President George W. Bush.

Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry said that while "no one disputes PREA's good intentions,'' the law imposes "substantial financial burdens on communities and sets unrealistic compliance dates.''

"While Texas is able and willing to comply with most PREA standards, the 'all or nothing' approach (Justice) is insisting on here makes compliance impossible,'' Perry wrote in a May 16 letter to Attorney General Eric Holder.

Cole said the law's standards, years in the making, are "intended to address a serious public safety, public health and human rights problem.''

The deputy attorney general said that an estimated 4% of state and federal prison inmates and 3.2% of jail inmates reported being sexually victimized by another inmate or a staff member in the previous 12 months. An estimated 9.5% of youths in state juvenile detention and contracted custody facilities reported sexual victimizations in the previous year.

"These statistics are alarming and they are unacceptable,'' Cole said.



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

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