Prison Rape

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Natasha Lennard a reporter for an online news outlet wrote a story just last November discussing the Prison Rape Epidemic that has yet to change even after the 2003 Legislation of the Prison Rape Elimination Act. This article was written just a month after Harvey Weinstein came out with the “Weinstein effect.” This is an idea of challenging abusers and harassers in positions of power. This model has already had much success in the media and entertainment industries. The interest in sexual assault and rape is getting to be something of talk by the public but is still hard to here the truth within prisons as they do not have social media outlets to express concern.

In a 2012 report from the Justice Department estimated 200,000-plus people were sexually abused in U.S. prisons every year. Nearly half of the reported instances stating prison guards or staff as the alleged abuser. This is not including the tons of reports not reported due to fear and retaliation within. Only 10% of these allegations are followed by investigations; only 1% of prison staff that have been found guilty of any sexual misconduct were convicted.

Under the law any sexual act between a corrections officer and the incarcerated people they oversee is considered rape, which makes the low number of convictions extremely disturbing. The power dynamic between a prison guard and a prisoner has little relevance in a system where this power imbalance keeps the victims silenced, ignored, and routinely disbelieved. Many survivors that attempt to report predators that are in powerful positions can always expect negative consequences for their actions.

The fear and threat of retaliation has a power over sexual assault victims in prisons and detention. Retaliation has many forms within prison walls such as threat of future violence, or the possible interference. There is lengthy process while filing complaints, suddenly mail come up missing, their cell is subjected to searches and other things. Many of the assaulters rarely suffer consequences when the incarcerated victims speak up about the assault. The New York City Board of Corrections statistics stated that 828 reports of sexual assaults that occurred in New York Jails last year, 786 of these assaults had yet to be investigated. This was announced in September of last year.

Individuals apart of the LBGTQ community are more vulnerable to victimization and sexual assault while in prison. That is something that has only increased in the corrections system especially the victimization of transgender prisoners. For their safety most can be put into solitary or isolation to defer any further victimization. The Bureau of Justice Statistics stated in The Nation in 2015 that women are 30 times more likely to become a victim of sexual assault while in the corrections system compared to those not imprisoned.

In 2016, more 7,000 prisons, jails, and community-based facilities were covered by PREA. This act requires the Attorney General to report each year the lists of institutions and rank them according to the incidence of prison rape. The BJS reported in 2017 that 4% of state and federal inmates reported sexual assault by another inmate or staff, compared to only 3.2% reported within jails.

The BJS plans to administer a different type of survey for the jails and prisons in hope of getting a more accurate response to prison rape. Because of budget restraints the survey for prison will be administered during 2018-2019 as the local jails will be 2019-2020. The new survey will hope to give better readings and samples from the current facilities and compare them to previous years. A change in the questionnaire given to sexual assault victims to capture better details of the most previous assault. These new items will help to establish the relationship between the victim and assaulter. A revised approach at random selection of inmates to better insure confidentiality and anonymity. An online facility survey to obtain data on how each detention center is cooperating with PREA standards to prevent and record sexual assaults within prisons and jails.

The Washington Post ran a story back in August of 2017 about the still present rape of inmates, they spoke of a prison in Brooklyn who has officials being charged with sexually assaulting women in custody earlier that year. In 2012, the Bureau of Prisons decided on a plan to ensure their facilities were adopting all the standards set by PREA. Only so much can be done if the standards are not being enforced as they should. We trust that the corrections officials are enforcing PREA but still every year 200,000 adults and children are sexually abused while behind bars. At least half of all abuse is committed by the staff, the people that are supposed to stop and prevent the abuse.

Several of the staff being accused of these allegations oversaw enforcing and training for PREA. They were apparently unqualified for this task and no one gave them the tools or cared if they were. An investigation done in 2015 by the Justice Department Inspector General Office found that majority of the officers at this prison were confused on how to handle reports of abuse confidentially. Which is a huge but simple task that PREA requires which shows why victims did not feel safe reporting abuse.

There is much myth about rapes. Such has “she was asking for it” or men just do not get raped. These types of myths were among University students about prison rapes. Many students see victims of prison rape as “others” and show lack of empathy for the victims. Majority of the surveyors said that the government should spend money on investigating prison rape and that they don’t believe that certain inmates deserve to be raped. While it was almost even on if they think inmates expect to be raped in prison. Over 65% of the students disagreed that guards should let convicted sexual offenders to be assaulted and that inmates who previously consented to sexual acts deserve to be raped by others. Majority of the students believed that prison rape is an inevitable aspect of prison life. Over 1/5 of the sampled expressed this was more than likely to happen while in prison.

The PREA has brought significant attention to the ongoing victimization within correctional institutions. “While the actual risk of sexual victimization remains low, the perception of rape among inmate is high.” (Shermer; Sudo, 2017) A person’s fears can translate into their behavior, understanding how prisons/jails impact the culture surrounding prison rape highlights how they are reducing violence within the prisons. The article in which this study came from studies 564 high security, general population inmates. They used fear of rape as the outcome of interest to speak on the individual and facility outcome to PREA. The greatest risk factors for rape are being male, having a mental health issue, and hearing about rape within the institution.

Cite this paper

Prison Rape. (2021, Jun 27). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/prison-rape/

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