CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Monday, July 31, 2006

New Prison Sexual Abuse Study Claims Report Numbers are Low

From Fewer than three prisoners in every 1,000 report they were sexually abused or harassed, but that probably is not the whole story, a government study says.There may be far more sexual violence in prisons than is reported, the study's authors said, because inmates fear reprisal, adhere to a code of silence, do not trust the staff or are embarrassed.

The study released Sunday by the Justice Department agency is based on reports to corrections officials in 2005.The bureau looked at more than 1,800 correctional facilities holding some 1.7 million inmates — 78% of the adult prison population.The report is the second one required by the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003, which was an attempt to solve a problem believed to be widespread.

"What gets reported is the tip of the iceberg," said Cindy Struckman-Johnson, professor of social psychology at the University of South Dakota and a member of the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission. Struckman-Johnson said her studies found 10% of male Midwestern state penitentiary inmates have been raped. "In my research, only a third of the inmates actually reported it to anybody working in a prison," she said. Beck and Harrison found that 38% of allegations involved staff sexual misconduct and 35% involved forced sex by an inmate on another inmate. Also, 17% involved staff sexual harassment and 10% involved abusive sexual contact by an inmate on another.

Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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