Sexual Violence Inside Prisons: Rates of Victimization

Abstractnbsp;nbsp;People in prison are exposed to and experience sexual violence inside prisons, further exposing them to communicable diseases and trauma. The consequences of sexual violence follow the individual into the community upon release. This paper estimates the prevalence of sexual victimization within a state prison system. A total of 6,964 men and 564 women participated in a survey administered using audio-CASI. Weighted estimates of prevalence were constructed by gender and facility size. Rates of sexual victimization varied significantly by gender, age, perpetrator, question wording, and facility. Rates of inmate-on-inmate sexual victimization in the previous 6nbsp;months were highest for female inmates (212 per 1,000), more than four times higher than male rates (43 per 1,000). Abusive sexual conduct was more likely between inmates and between staff and inmates than nonconsensual sexual acts. Sexual violence inside prison is an urgent public health issue needing targeted interventions to prevent and ameliorate its health and social consequences, which spatially concentrate in poor inner-city areas where these individuals ultimately return
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Journal of Urban Health
To estimate the prevalence of sexual violence in a prison system, male (n=6,964) and female inmates (n=564) in twelve prisons in a small eastern state completed a computer-assisted survey. Inmates were asked about incidents involving abusive sexual contact and non-consensual sex acts by other inmates or by prison staff within the last 6 months. Females reported inmate-on-inmate sexual violence at 212 incidents per 1000 inmates while males reported only 43 incidents per 1000 inmates. Rates of non-consensual sex (inmate on inmate) were 32 per 1000 for women and 15 per for men. Staff-on-inmate sexual victimization rates were the same for men and women (76 per 1000), with men reporting 19 per 1000 incidents of non-consensual sex vs. 17 per 1000 for women. This study had a good response rate (average 39%) from all inmates housed in general population. Because rates of sexual violence varied by the site, future studies should look at factors that can minimize risks. Inmate experiences of trauma and disease from forced sex should be addressed to prevent them from contributing to the ill health of their community when they are released.
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Male rape; prevalence; prison rape; underserved populations
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