The Justice Department estimates that compliance with the new standards will cost about $55,000 a year per prison, and somewhat less for jails and other facilities. According to its cost-benefit analysis, this would be “justified” in financial terms if, nationally, the standards “reduced the annual number of victims of prison rape by 1,671 from the baseline levels, which is less than 1 percent of the total.”1
During the first few years in which standards are implemented, the rate of sexual abuse as measured by the BJS may actually go up, since inmates may become less afraid to report it. Thereafter, though, the trend should reverse, and much more dramatically than the department has dared predict. Previously in these pages, we have argued that even by a conservative means of calculation, reasonably well-crafted standards should reduce the incidence of prisoner rape by more than half.15 These standards—always assuming, of course, that they are adequately funded, carried out, and enforced—are good enough to do markedly better than that.