Commission hears out woman sexually assualted in jail, News 8 Austin, March 26, 2007

The National Prison Rape Elimination Commission heard testimony Monday from a woman who had been sexually assaulted by a police officer.

The commission is investigating how authorities respond to sexual assaults that occur inside prisons.

Since little research has been done in this area, the actual reports of abuse are hard to determine.

According to data gathered by interviewing inmates, at least 20 percent of males and 25 percent of females have been sexually victimized.

That data is not verified by official incident reports, many times because prisoners don't come forward.

"Prisoners don't report because they fear retaliation, because it's so stigmatizing, because they don't feel that the system will be able to help them," Katherine Hall-Martinez of the group Stop Prisoner Rape said.

On Tuesday, the commission will hear testimony from a parent of an inmate in the Texas Youth Commission. The TYC has come under fire following allegations of inmate sexual abuse and a possible cover-up.

Information gathered at this hearing and others will help the commission develop standards in prison facilities across the United States.