Jenny Inglee, Rape Behind Bars: Nearly 90,000 Inmates Sexually Abused During 2008/2009, Takepart.com, August 27, 2010
"Prisoner rape is a nationwide human rights crisis... We are talking about unacceptable, preventable abuse and human suffering," said Lovisa Stannow, executive director of Just Detention International.
The Bureau of Justice released a report on August 26, which reveals that an estimated 88,500 inmates reported experiencing one or more incidents of sexual victimization during 2008-09.
The sexual abuse was perpetrated by other inmates and by the prison staff.
Of victims surveyed, higher rates were reported among inmates with a college degree versus those who had not completed high school.
Gay, lesbian and transgender inmates also were sexually abused more often than heterosexual inmates.
Prisoners wrote to Just Detention International with details of sexual assault in prison. Here are excerpts:
William in Texas was sexually abused by an officer. Trying to stay safe, he wrote:
"I would misbehave to get locked up [in solitary confinement] so I didn't have to deal with it."
James is in prison in Michigan. He is openly gay and has been raped more than 20 times by more than one inmate. He wrote:
"Do you know what it's like to see their faces each day? Seeing the look they give me? Knowing that they smile and laugh..."
According to Just Detention International, "By law, Attorney General Eric Holder had until June 23, 2010, to ratify binding standards, but he missed this deadline and no new date has been set."
If the Attorney General issues new regulations to combat this problem, "States and localities will have one year to get into compliance or risk losing five percent of their corrections-related federal funding."
Stannow, executive director of Just Detention International adds:
Every day that the Attorney General doesn't finalize the national standards is another day of anguish among prisoner rape survivors, of preventable safety breaches in prisons and jails, and of significant spending of taxpayers' money on medical treatment, investigations, and litigation that could have been avoided.