Earlier this year, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported on one of the most overlooked threats to prisoner dignity — sexual victimization by correctional authorities. Here are seven figures from that report:
1. Correctional administrators reported 8,763 allegations of sexual victimization in prisons, jails, and other adult correctional facilities in 2011, a statistically significant increase over the number of allegations reported in 2009 (7,855) and 2010 (8,404).
2. About half of all allegations (51%) involved nonconsensual sexual acts (the most serious, including penetration) or abusive sexual contacts (less serious, including unwanted touching, grabbing, and groping) of inmates with other inmates. Nearly half (49%) involved staff sexual misconduct (any sexual act directed toward an inmate by staff) or sexual harassment (demeaning verbal statements of a sexual nature) directed toward inmates.
3. In 2011, 902 allegations of sexual victimization (10%) were substantiated (i.e., determined to have occurred upon investigation). The total number of substantiated incidents has not changed significantly since 2005 (885).
4. Victims were physically injured in 18% of substantiated incidents of inmate-on-inmate sexual victimization, compared to less than 1% of incidents of staff-on-inmate victimization.
5. More than half (54%) of all substantiated incidents of staff sexual misconduct and a quarter (26%) of all incidents of staff sexual harassment were committed by female staff.
6. The most common location for inmate-on-inmate sexual victimization was in the victim’s cell or room (50 percent of substantiated incidents), while the most common location for staff-on-inmate sexual victimization was in a program service area (48 percent), such as a commissary, kitchen, storage, laundry, cafeteria or workshop.
7. Overall, more than three-quarters (78%) of staff perpetrators were fired or resigned. Nearly half (45%) were arrested, referred for prosecution, or convicted.
Other posts in this series: