Lovisa Stannow, Letter to the Editor: The Population of America’s Prisons, New York Times, March 16, 2008.

To the Editor:

As your editorial says, this country’s high incarceration rates “point to a terrible waste of money and lives.” Even worse, men and women in detention are subjected to devastating sexual abuse at the hands of corrections officials and other inmates.

Last December, the Bureau of Justice Statistics established the pervasive nature of this type of violence with a national inmate survey. It found that 4.5 percent of the people held in federal and state prisons reported being sexually assaulted in the previous 12 months alone.

That figure confirms what Stop Prisoner Rape has learned from the more than 900 letters we have received from prisoner rape survivors in the past few years: sexual abuse derails justice and shatters the dignity of its victims, in contravention of domestic law and international human rights standards.

Lovisa Stannow
Los Angeles, March 10, 2008

The writer is executive director of Stop Prisoner Rape.