Bill restructuring laws against sexual assaults in prison should sail through last procedural hurdle.


The state Senate unanimously approved a bill March 23 that would restructure laws against sexual assault in Delaware correctional facilities and remove a provision that criminalized prison rape for the victim as well as the perpetrator.

House Bill 284, sponsored by Rep. James Johnson, D-Jefferson Farms, is meant to correct a situation where victims of sexual assault, whether by prison staff or other inmates, are dissuaded from reporting the crimes because they, too, could be charged.

The House also passed the bill unanimously, but the chamber must vote on it again since the Senate added a technical amendment.

Cosponsor Sen. Bruce C. Ennis, D-Smyrna, said Delaware is one of only four states that still holds prison rape victims criminally responsible for their own assaults.

Ennis said the legislation was presented to align the state with the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act, which encourages reporting of sexual assaults among inmates or involving inmates, guards, prison employees or contractors.

The bill does not affect consensual sexual contact between prisoners, which remains a crime.

Email Doug Denison at doug.denison@doverpost.com.