August 18, 2007

Reports of sexual assault in prison implicate guards

Countering the common stereotype of prisons, most sexual assaults reported in U.S. prisons and jails last year involved correctional staff assaulting prisoners, according to a newly released report from the Department of Justice.

For 2006, correctional authorities reported more than 6,000 allegations of sexual violence in prisons and jails, the equivalent of about 3 per every 1,000 prisoners. More than half of the allegations involved sexual violence or harassment by correctional staff toward prisoners.

Under the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003, the Bureau of Justice Statistics of the Department of Justice is required to collect annual data on sexual violence in prisons and jails. The Bureau’s press release, with links to the report, is available online.