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Text of the Foreign Prison Conditions Improvement Act of 2010

This bill was introduced on September 16, 2010, in a previous session of Congress, but was not enacted. The text of the bill below is as of Sep 16, 2010 (Introduced).

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Source: GPO

I

111th CONGRESS

2d Session

H. R. 6153

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

September 16, 2010

(for himself and Mr. Pitts) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and in addition to the Committee on the Judiciary, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned

A BILL

To authorize appropriations of United States assistance to help eliminate conditions in foreign prisons and other detention facilities that do not meet minimum humane standards of health, sanitation, and safety, and for other purposes.

1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Foreign Prison Conditions Improvement Act of 2010.

2.

Findings

Congress makes the following 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.

(2)

According to a 2009 International Centre for Prison Studies report, there are an estimated 9,800,000 people held in penal institutions in the world, with prison populations increasing in 71 percent of the over 200 countries surveyed.

(3)

Rates of malnutrition, disease, 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.

(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.

(5)

Amnesty International’s 2009 State of the World’s Human Rights Report 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.

(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.

(7)

According to a 2009 report by the United Nations Economic and Social Council’s Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, former prisoners are likely to spread diseases contracted in prison to the local population.

(8)

Some governments fail to permit prisoners and other detainees reasonable exercise of religious worship or contact with family members or other visitors.

(9)

According to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom’s 2009 Annual Report, religious prisoners have been confined to overcrowded cells, exposed to extreme temperature fluctuations, denied adequate food and medical care, and denied access to clergy and religious literature.

(10)

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 prison records often result in prisoners and detainees being incarcerated indefinitely because of never being tried or otherwise adjudicated, and being held long after their sentences have expired thereby further swelling prison populations. 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.

(11)

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.

(12)

The Department of State's 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices reported prison conditions as poor, inhumane, or life threatening in more than 100 countries, all of which receive United States assistance.

(13)

The United States Government should use its influence and resources to help 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 that are making significant efforts to eliminate inhumane conditions in prisons and other detention facilities.

(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.

3.

Definitions

In this Act:

(1)

Appropriate congressional committees

The term appropriate congressional committees means—

(A)

the Committee on Appropriations and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate; and

(B)

the Committee on Appropriations and the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives.

(2)

Minimum standards for the elimination of inhumane conditions in foreign prisons and other detention facilities

The term minimum standards 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:

(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.

(B)

Human waste facilities are sanitary and accessible, and human waste is disposed of regularly and in a sanitary manner.

(C)

The lighting, ventilation, temperature, and physical construction of prisons and other detention facilities do not seriously endanger the health and safety of prisoners.

(D)

Prisoners and other detainees have access to adequate food and potable drinking water.

(E)

Prisoners and other detainees have access to essential and emergency medical care.

(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.

(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 (22 U.S.C. 2151 et seq.), the Arms Export Control Act (22 U.S.C. 2751 et seq.), or the Millennium Challenge Act of 2003 (22 U.S.C. 7701 et seq.).

4.

Actions to help eliminate inhumane conditions in foreign prisons and other detention facilities

(a)

Annual report to Congress

(1)

Annual report

Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, and annually thereafter, the Secretary of State shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report describing the conditions in prisons and other detention facilities in countries receiving United States assistance. The report shall include a list of those countries, if any, receiving United States assistance, whose governments—

(A)

do not meet minimum standards for the elimination of inhumane conditions in prisons and other detention facilities but are making significant efforts to comply; and

(B)

do not meet such standards and are not making significant efforts to comply.

(2)

Significant efforts

In making determinations under paragraph (1) as to whether the government of a country is making significant efforts to meet minimum standards 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—

(A)

regularly monitoring the conditions of prisons and other detention facilities under its authority, including 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;

(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; and

(C)

increasing the amount of government resources to eliminate inhumane conditions in prisons and other detention facilities.

(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 (22 U.S.C. 2151n(d) and 2304(b)), but shall for each country provide a detailed and up to date report covering, whenever possible, each of the issues set forth in section 3(2).

(4)

Publication

The report required under paragraph (1) shall be made available to the public, including on a publicly available website of the Department of State.

(b)

Assistance for governments making significant efforts To eliminate inhumane conditions in prisons and other detention facilities

(1)

In general

The Secretary of State and the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development should furnish assistance for the purpose of helping to eliminate inhumane conditions in prisons and other detention facilities to countries whose governments do not meet minimum standards for the elimination of inhumane conditions in prisons and other detention facilities but are making significant efforts to comply.

(2)

Inapplicability of foreign assistance act prohibition

The prohibitions under section 660 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2420) shall not be applicable to assistance furnished to carry out the provisions of paragraph (1).

(3)

Grant funds

Grants made under this subsection shall be designated and used exclusively to help eliminate inhumane conditions 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.

(c)

Negotiations with governments not making significant efforts To eliminate inhumane conditions in prisons and other detention facilities

(1)

Negotiations

In the case of a government receiving United States assistance that is listed in the report submitted under subsection (a)(1)(B) 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 negotiations with such government to achieve the purposes of this Act.

(2)

Actions regarding assistance and visas

(A)

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.

(B)

Visas

The Secretary of State may issue or deny visas for travel to the United States by officials of a government described in paragraph (1) to achieve the purposes of this Act.

(3)

Report

Not later than 180 days after the beginning of the negotiations required under paragraph (1), the Secretary shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report describing the actions taken or agreed to be taken, if any, during such negotiations 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) regarding assistance and visas. If the Secretary determines that United States assistance to such government should not be restructured, reprogrammed, or reduced, or that visas should be issued or denied to officials of such government, the report shall contain a detailed explanation for that decision.

5.

Training for foreign service officers

Section 708 of the Foreign Service Act of 1980 (22 U.S.C. 4028) is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:

(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 2010.

.

6.

New position to monitor foreign prison conditions

The Secretary of State shall establish, within the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, a new full-time equivalent Deputy Assistant Secretary level position which shall have responsibility for advancing the purposes of this Act.

7.

Authorization of appropriations

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 (22 U.S.C. 2151 et seq. and 22 U.S.C. 2346 et seq.) and the Support for East European Democracy (SEED) Act of 1989 (22 U.S.C. 5401 et seq.) to carry out the provisions of section 4(b) and section 6 of this Act and section 708(d) of the Foreign Service Act of 1980, as added by section 5.

8.

Rule of construction

For purposes of this Act—

(1)

the prohibitions of section 104(f) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2151b(f)) shall apply and shall not be construed to be altered by this Act; and

(2)

the minimum standards for foreign prisons and other detention facilities shall not be determined based on the provision of services for which funding is prohibited by that section.