Michael Betsch, Group Says FBI Report Overlooks Prison Rape
Statistics, CNSNews.com, November 4, 2002.
(CNSNews.com) - A human rights group founded by survivors of prison rape
is calling on the Federal Bureau of Investigation to amend its yearly
crime report to include men under its category of "forcible rape."
According to Lara Stemple, executive director of Stop Prisoner Rape (SPR),
"People who are raped in prison are seen as something of a joke in our
"Forcible rape," as defined by the FBI's Uniform Crime Report (UCR) for
2001, "is the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly against her will.
Assaults or attempts to commit rape by force or threat of force are also
included; however, statutory rape (without force) and other sex offenses
According to the UCR, "62.2 of every 100,000 females were victims of
forcible rape in 2001 compared to 62.7 in the previous year." The report
notes, "Of the total rapes reported for 2001, 90 percent were classified
as rapes and the remainder were attempts."
Upon examination of the recently released report, Stemple said she was
amazed to discover that the FBI explicitly defines 'forcible rape' as
the rape of females only. "It's just blatantly discriminatory against
men," she said.
"When men are raped, it's put into a lesser category of either simple
assaults or a sex offense," Stemple said. "But those aren't considered
to be violent crimes and they're not included when the FBI makes its
overall claim every year about whether violent crime is on the increase
And, she said there is no conclusive nationwide data pertaining to
forcible prison rape that exists.
According to Stemple, the FBI's failure to account for the male victims of
forcible rape is a clear example of how government ignores the daily
human rights violations that prisoners endure throughout the term of
"We have two million people in prison in the U.S. and one out of ten men
in prison say that they've been raped," she said. "By just completely
ignoring that, we're not really getting an accurate view of exactly what
is going on in terms of all violent crime."
Coerced Sex vs. Forcible Rape
Stemple said not all male-on-male prison sex fits under the definition of
"We do know that many men were forcibly raped, beaten and gang-raped and
they've contracted HIV/AIDS through this type of thing ... definitely
not a consensual act," she said.
But Stemple said there are also many "convoluted situations" where some
inmates exchange sex for physical protection. She explained that those
men who fear they will be assaulted or raped by multiple men or gangs
would pair up with a "big guy" who pledges to spare them from harm.
That unique protection service is known as "protective pairing," Stemple
said. And, anyone who provides or submits to protective pairing would
not fit the FBI's definition of forcible rape because the sex act would
be considered consensual, she noted.
Stemple has asked the FBI to consider using gender-neutral terminology
when reporting forcible rape in order to achieve a more accurate account
of the victims of this crime.
"That's a more contemporary policy in line with the reality of there's
many ways that humans manage to abuse one another," she said.
The FBI has not yet responded to Stop Prisoner Rape's petition, Stemple
said. Last year, the Philadelphia-based Women's Law Project also
petitioned the FBI to broaden the Uniform Crime Report's definition of
forcible rape to include men. However, the FBI report did not
incorporate the Philadelphia group's suggestion in its 2001 report.
An FBI official, speaking on background, told CNSNews.com that it is not
possible to have a male rape victim under the UCR's definition of
forcible rape. However, there is a relatively unknown crime reporting
system that does incorporate males into its rape victim data.
The National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) was created in the
1980s, but has only seen spotted use across the country since its
inception. Forcible sex offenses committed against men are documented by
NIBRS to include: forcible rape, forcible sodomy, sexual assault with an
object and forcible fondling.
Stemple hopes a bi-partisan bill, known as the Prison Rape Reduction Act
of 2002, will add seriousness to an issue that is "constantly ignored"
and "seen as something of a joke in our society." The first-of-its-kind
federal legislation was co-sponsored by Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), Sen.
Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.).
The pending legislation creates three programs in the Department of
Justice: one dedicated to collecting national statistics about the
problem; one to facilitate confidential reports of prisoner rape and
provide training about how to address it; and one that will provide
grants to combat the problem.
An investigative commission would also be established under terms of the
legislation to produce a report and new national standards on how to
address prisoner rape that states may or may not choose to adopt.
SPR intends to bring forward survivors of prison rape to testify when
congressional hearings are held on the issue.