PUBLISHED: 14:15 EST, 17 May 2012 | UPDATED: 14:15 EST, 17 May 2012
- Report by Justice Department says that one out of ten inmates is sexually victimized at least once while in prison
- Majority of sexual victimization occurs at state prisons, report shows
- After report’s release, White House immediately ordered prisons increase efforts to stop rape
The Obama administration ordered federal, state and local prisons to increase efforts to stop prison rape by issuing mandatory screening, enforcement and prevention regulations in hopes of reducing sexual victimization behind bars.
The Justice Department announced the regulations Thursday on the heels of a new study showing that almost one in every 10 former state or local prisoners reported being sexually victimized at least once in prison.
The new regulations are immediately binding on federal prisons.
Alarming: A new report by the Justice Department claims that one out of every ten U.S. inmates has been raped
Betterment: The Obama Administration ordered federal, state and local prisons to increase efforts to stop prison rape by issuing mandatory screening, enforcement and prevention regulations
State prisons face losing federal money if they don’t comply, and local jails will not be able to get re-accredited without falling in line.
The White House also ordered that all federal detainment facilities outside of the prison system come up with ways to fight prison rape within a year.
The findings, reported by the Bureau of Justice Statistics in the first-ever National Former Prisoners Survey, may indicate a greater problem with sexual victimization than previously thought.
Surveyors found that 9.6 per cent of former inmates said they were sexually victimized in jails, prisons and halfway houses.
A somewhat similar survey of still-imprisoned convicts done by the same agency in 2008-2009 found that only 4.4 per cent of state and federal inmates said they were sexually victimized.
The difference may be because the former inmates in the current survey were asked about a longer time period than in the previous survey, said Allen J. Beck, one of the authors of the survey.
Startling results: Surveyors found that 9.6 per cent of former inmates said they were sexually victimized in jails, prisons and halfway houses
Reform: The new regulations are immediately binding on federal prisons, while state prisons face losing federal money if they don’t comply
But it also could be that former inmates may be more willing to talk about the sexual victimization than the inmates currently housed inside those facilities, who have concerns about retaliation or retribution for speaking up.
Critics have said inmates may be willing to lie on these surveys in an attempt to embarrass a facility or refuse to report an incident for fear of retaliation.
‘By looking at inmates who are out of that environment, who no longer have that immediate fear of retaliation, of retribution, who moreover don’t have an immediate motivation to falsely accuse since they’re out of the facility entirely, we get a sense that through interviewing these former inmates that our past work is confirmed, that some of the concerns about false negatives and false positives may have been overstated,’ Beck told the Associated Press.
The study defines sexual victimization as all types of unwanted sexual activity with other inmates, abusive sexual activity with other inmates and both willing and unwilling sexual activity with staff.
VICTIMS BEHIND BARS: FINDINGS FROM JUSTICE DEPARTMENT’S REPORT
- Just about the same number of former inmates were victimized by facility staff as were victimized by other inmates.
- About 27,300 – 5.4 per cent – reported incidents with other inmates, while 23,300 – 5.3 per cent – reported incidents that involved facility staff. Of the former inmates who reported incidents with staff, 6,300 – or 1.2 per cent – of the former inmates said they had unwilling sex or sexual contact with staff, while the rest said they ‘willingly’ had sexual contact with the staff member.
- Any sexual contact between staff and inmate is officially classified as non-consensual. Prisons uniformly forbid inmate-staff sexual contact.
- A fourth of the former inmates who were victimized by other inmates said they had been physically held down or restrained, and a quarter also said they were physically injured or harmed during the attack.
- Half of the former inmates who were victimized by facility staff members said they were offered favours or privileges in exchange, while a third said they were talked into it.
- The majority of the sexual victimizations occurred in state prisons: 7.5 per cent of inmates reported being victimized at least once there, while 1.8 per cent reported incidents in local jails and 0.1 per cent in halfway houses or other post-release community-treatment facilities.
- Gay and bisexual men seemed to be by far the most frequently targeted in prison. The survey said that 39 per cent of men who were gay and 34 per cent of bisexual men reported being sexually victimized by another inmate, while only 3.5 per cent of heterosexual men reported incidents.
- Lesbian and heterosexual women reported incidents with other inmates at the same rates – 13 per cent – while staff victimization was double for lesbian women – eight per cent – compared with heterosexual women – four per cent.
- Multiracial men (9.5 per cent) are targeted for sexual victimization more than non-Hispanic whites (5.9 per cent) or blacks (2.9 per cent).