To the members of the House Judiciary Committee:
My name is Jocelyn Foye. I am writing on behalf of The Womxn Project, a statewide organization focused on leveraging the power of art, activism, advocacy and education to advance the principles of reproductive justice, which demands that we all have the right to determine when and how we build our relationships, families and futures and that we have the ability to live and raise our children with dignity.
We are writing in support of House Bill H6637, which makes clear what should always be the legal standard — those being detained or in police custody should never be subject to sexual abuse or rape from “peace officers.” The fact is that if someone is in custody they are not able to provide consent.
A police officer has authority over a person they have arrested. This means that a person cannot freely and truly consent to sex. They are under duress and in many cases they are in fear. This is not a place where one can safely agree to sex or should be in such a position. It is coercive and an abuse of power. Simply put, it is assault.
When someone is being held, the state has a responsibility to care for them and keep them safe. Ensuring that no one feels pressured into having sex and making sure that anyone who uses their power in that way is held accountable is truly the least that we can do.
We urge you to vote yes on this legislation. We would also like to express our support for an amendment to expand this protection to people under investigation by law enforcement and not just people detained or in custody.
You have the power to stop this systemic abuse. Please, vote yes on House Bill H6637. Thank you.