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Foreign Prison Conditions Improvement Act Introduced In Senate

Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and James Inhofe (R-Okla.) last week introduced the Foreign Prison Conditions Improvement Act, which “would set standards for humane conditions [in prisons globally], require the Secretary of State to report on prison conditions in at least 30 countries receiving U.S. assistance or under U.S. sanctions, engage governments in recognizing and remedying human rights abuses behind bars and open the door to foreign aid to assist in bringing improvements,” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports (Barton, 3/27). “The bill then encourages the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to offer aid to those countries to end overcrowding in prisons, ensure the sanitary disposal of human waste, provide lighting and ventilation and ensure prisoners have access to food and water,” The Hill’s “Floor Action Blog” adds.

“Their Foreign Prison Conditions Improvement Act, S. 657, is a reaction to their visits to prisons in Africa and Haiti,” The Hill continues, adding, “Inhofe found poor conditions in African prisons, including a high incidence of HIV/AIDS, and Leahy found overcrowding in Haiti” (Kasperowicz, 3/25). “Science Speaks” notes, “Leahy and Inhofe introduced the bill last year, while Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) introduced a parallel bill in the House of Representatives, but the session ended before legislators acted on it” (3/27). Smith “again intends to introduce a counterpart House measure,” according to a press release from Leahy’s office (3/22).