The easiest way to email your members of CongressDonate Now
S.3577 - Foreign Prison Conditions Improvement Act of 2012
A bill to eliminate conditions in foreign prisons and other detention facilities that do not meet primary indicators of health, sanitation, and safety, and for other purposes.
Loading Bill Text
Rollover any line of text to comment and/or link to it.
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
SEC. 2. FINDINGS.
(1) Millions of incarcerated people in the world suffer inhumane conditions in prisons and other detention facilities that are overcrowded, unsanitary, and unsafe to the point of endangering their lives. Many governments do not respect their international commitments to ensure that all individuals in detention or incarceration are treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(2) Rates of malnutrition and death among prisoners and other detainees far exceed those of the general population, and medical treatment for serious illness or injury is, in many instances, non-existent or grossly inadequate.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(3) Prisons are extremely high-risk environments for transmitting diseases, particularly HIV and tuberculosis, and create grave risks to communities in which released prisoners live; studies estimate that HIV infection rates in prisons in developing countries can be as much as 50 times higher than in the general population, and tuberculosis infection rates in prisons are more than 20 times higher than in the general population.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(4) These conditions are compounded by severe overcrowding in prisons and other detention facilities. Excessive pre-trial detention and dysfunctional justice systems frequently result in prisoners and other detainees spending years in such conditions before their cases are adjudicated. In some countries, such facilities are filled to capacity many times over resulting in conditions so cramped that individual prisoners cannot move without all doing so en masse.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(5) Experts have documented widespread inhumane prison conditions, including overcrowding, inadequate food and water, no access to hygiene products or medical care, juveniles detained with adults, and denial of visits from family.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(6) Some governments fail to provide even the most rudimentary sanitation in prisons and other detention facilities, putting prisoners and other detainees at even greater risk of easily preventable and often life-threatening diseases. Toilets are few or non-existent and human waste repositories often are located among the general prison population, forcing prisoners to eat, sleep, and live in grossly unsanitary conditions.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(7) Some governments fail to permit prisoners and other detainees reasonable contact with family members or other visitors. Many governments deny access to certain prisoners and detainees, or do not provide information about their location, health, and well-being, leaving them unaccounted for.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(8) Inhumane conditions in prisons and other detention facilities often exist in countries where resources for law enforcement are limited and only a small fraction of such resources are made available for the operation and maintenance of prisons and other detention facilities. Inadequate, misplaced, or lost records often result in prisoners and other detainees being incarcerated indefinitely because their cases have never been tried or otherwise adjudicated. In other cases, poor recordkeeping results in prisoners and other detainees being held long after their sentences have expired. Allocating the relatively modest resources necessary to provide for the basic human needs of prisoners and other detainees and to remediate the inhumane conditions under which such prisoners are held is often a low priority.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(9) The United States Government currently provides significant amounts of assistance to countries whose governments operate prisons and other detention facilities that, because of their inhumane conditions, seriously jeopardize the lives of prisoners and other detainees held under their authority.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(10) The Department of State’s 2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices reported prison conditions as poor, inhumane, or life threatening in scores of countries, all of which receive United States assistance.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(11) On February 14, 2012, a fire at the Comayagua Prison in Honduras killed 360 prisoners. United States officials who investigated the fire attributed the deaths to severe overcrowding and poor safety practices. In one overcrowded cell block, only 4 of 105 prisoners survived. More than half of the prisoners were pretrial detainees who had never been convicted of any crime.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(12) In many countries, United States citizens suffer serious harm and are at risk of death and mistreatment from being held in prisons and other detention facilities under inhumane conditions.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(13) The United States Government should use its influence and resources to ensure that governments that receive United States assistance do not operate prisons and other detention facilities under inhumane conditions. The United States Government also should assist countries to eliminate inhumane conditions in prisons and other detention facilities.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(14) Eliminating inhumane conditions in foreign prisons and other detention facilities will strengthen the rule of law, save lives, and enhance the health and well-being of vulnerable people in poor countries, and it will advance United States interests.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.
(2) PRIMARY INDICATORS FOR THE ELIMINATION OF INHUMANE CONDITIONS IN FOREIGN PRISONS AND OTHER DETENTION FACILITIES- The term ‘primary indicators for the elimination of inhumane conditions in prisons and other detention facilities’ means, with respect to the operation or maintenance of prisons and other detention facilities in a foreign country that is a recipient of United States assistance, the following:CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(A) The number of inmates or detainees held in a facility does not so exceed prison capacity such that per capita floor space is insufficient to allow for humane sleeping conditions and reasonable physical movement.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(C) The lighting, ventilation, temperature, and physical construction of prisons and other detention facilities do not seriously endanger the health and safety of prisoners.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(F) To the maximum extent practicable, prisoners and other detainees are allowed religious observance and materials, and contact with clergy, family, and friends, by both correspondence and personal visits.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(3) UNITED STATES ASSISTANCE- The term ‘United States assistance’ means any non-humanitarian assistance furnished to carry out the provisions of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (
SEC. 4. EFFORTS TO HELP ELIMINATE INHUMANE CONDITIONS IN FOREIGN PRISONS AND OTHER DETENTION FACILITIES.
(A) IN GENERAL- Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, and annually thereafter for five years on October 1, the Secretary of State shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report describing the conditions in prisons and other detention facilities in at least 30 countries receiving United States assistance or under sanction by the United States selected as a result of the Secretary’s determination that such conditions raise the most serious human rights or humanitarian concerns. In selecting such countries, the Secretary shall consider only the conditions within each country’s prisons and detention facilities.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(i) a detailed and up-to-date review, whenever possible, of each of the primary indicators set forth in section 3(2) and noting any efforts made to eliminate inhumane conditions as described in paragraph (2); andCommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(I) do not meet one or more of the primary indicators for the elimination of inhumane conditions in prisons and other detention facilities but are making significant efforts to comply; andCommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(2) SIGNIFICANT EFFORTS- In making determinations under paragraph (1)(A) as to whether the government of a country is making significant efforts to comply with the primary indicators for the elimination of inhumane conditions in prisons and other detention facilities, the Secretary of State shall consider the extent to which the government of the country is--CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(A) regularly monitoring the conditions of prisons and other detention facilities under its authority, including allowing access for independent monitors, permitting prisoners and other detainees to submit complaints without censorship, cooperating with international experts on eliminating and monitoring inhumane conditions in prisons and other detention facilities, promptly investigating credible allegations of inhumane conditions, and making information concerning conditions and investigations available to the public and the Secretary of State;CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(B) taking effective steps to eliminate inhumane conditions in prisons and other detention facilities, which may include, among other steps, appointing ombudsmen to serve on behalf of prisoners and other detainees, providing alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent offenders in order to alleviate inhumane overcrowding, addressing the status and circumstances of confinement of juveniles, improving pretrial detention practices, and implementing bail and recordkeeping procedures to reduce pretrial detention periods and to ensure that prisoners do not serve beyond the maximum sentence for the charged offense; andCommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(3) USE OF COUNTRY REPORTS- The report required under paragraph (1) may draw from the discussion of prison conditions contained in the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices required under sections 116(d) and 502B(b) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (
(1) IN GENERAL- The Secretary of State and the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development should furnish assistance authorized under section 7 for the purpose of eliminating inhumane conditions in prisons and other detention facilities where such assistance would be appropriate and beneficial.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(2) INAPPLICABILITY OF PROHIBITION- The prohibitions under section 660 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (
(3) ASSISTANCE- Assistance made available under this subsection shall be designated and used exclusively to eliminate inhumane conditions in prisons and other detention facilities in the country receiving the grant, but may not include the construction of new prisons. Funds made available under this section shall be subject to the regular notification procedures of the Committees on Appropriations of the Senate and the House of Representatives.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(1) CONSULTATIONS- In the case of a government of a country that is listed in the report submitted under subsection (a)(1)(B)(ii)(II) as not making significant efforts to eliminate inhumane conditions in prisons and other detention facilities, the Secretary of State shall, not later than 90 days after the date such report is submitted, enter into consultations with such government to achieve the purposes of this Act.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(A) UNITED STATES ASSISTANCE- The Secretary of State and the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development may restructure, reprogram, or reduce United States assistance for a government described in paragraph (1) to achieve the purposes of this Act.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(B) REPORTING- If assistance is provided to a country whose government is described in paragraph (1), the Secretary of State shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees within 30 days of the decision to provide such assistance a report--CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(iii) describing the United States interest in providing such assistance notwithstanding the failure of the government to make significant efforts to eliminate inhumane conditions; andCommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(iv) describing the conditions in prisons and other detention facilities in such country unless this information has already been included in the report required under section 4(a)(1).CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(3) BRIEFING- Not later than 180 days after the beginning of consultations required under paragraph (1), the Secretary shall brief the appropriate congressional committees on the actions taken or agreed to be taken, if any, by the government of that country that constitute significant efforts to eliminate inhumane conditions in prisons and other detention facilities and the actions taken, or that will be taken, by the United States pursuant to paragraph (2). Such information shall also be included in the next report required under subsection (a). If the Secretary determines that United States assistance to such government should not be restructured, reprogrammed, or reduced, the briefing and report shall contain an explanation for that decision.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
SEC. 5. TRAINING FOR FOREIGN SERVICE OFFICERS.
‘(d) The Secretary of State, with the assistance of other relevant officials, shall establish as part of the standard training provided for chiefs of mission, deputy chiefs of mission, and other officers of the Service who are or will be involved in the assessment of conditions in foreign prisons and other detention facilities or the drafting of the annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, instruction on matters related to conditions in such prisons and other detention facilities and the substance of the Foreign Prison Conditions Improvement Act of 2012.’.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
SEC. 6. OFFICIAL TO MONITOR FOREIGN PRISON CONDITIONS.
The Secretary of State shall designate, within the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, an official at a minimum level of a Deputy Assistant Secretary who shall have responsibility for implementing the provisions of this Act, which shall be a substantial part of such official’s responsibilities. The Secretary shall instruct relevant United States officials abroad to assist such official in gathering information regarding conditions in foreign prisons and other detention facilities and in implementing the provisions of this Act.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
SEC. 7. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.
(a) Foreign Assistance Funding- In addition to funds otherwise available for such purposes, the Secretary of State may use funds available for any fiscal year to carry out the provisions of part I and chapter 4 of part II of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (
(b) Diplomatic and Consular Affairs Funding- In addition to funds otherwise available for such purposes, the Secretary of State may use funds available for any fiscal year to the Department of State for Diplomatic and Consular Programs to carry out the provisions of section 6 of this Act and section 708(d) of the Foreign Service Act of 1980, as added by section 5, including for administrative expenses.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
SEC. 8. RULE OF CONSTRUCTION.
(1) the prohibitions of section 104(f) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (
(2) the primary indicators for the elimination of inhumane conditions in foreign prisons and other detention facilities, as well as significant efforts and best practices to achieve such indicators, shall not be determined based on the provision of services for which funding is prohibited by section 104(f) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (