JDI IN THE NEWS - 2010

Erin Billups, Justice Department: State Prisons Have High Levels Of Guard-Prisoner Sexual Abuse, ny1.com, August 27, 2010

Inmates advocates in New York State are outraged over a Justice Department report which found that three of the state's prisons and one county jail have high rates of guard-on-prisoner sexual abuse -- more than any other state.

"If there are so many of them within the same state, with the same problems, then you really have to look at the people running the state Department of Corrections," says Just Detention International Board Chair David Kaiser.

Bayview Correctional Facility in Manhattan and Attica Correctional Facility took the second and third spots for prisons, where about 6.5 percent of inmates reported being physically forced or threatened into engaging in sexual activity by staff.

Additionally, 10 percent of female inmates at Bayview and about 7 percent of male inmates at the Elmira Correctional facility say they have also been coerced, or threatened without violence, into performing sex acts.

Queens Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubrey, chair of the Corrections Committee, says he'd like to visit the sites and have public hearings on the issue.

"To see whether or not our policies and the law are being obeyed as they should," says Aubrey.

Sexual misconduct is considered by many as just another consequence associated with being locked up, but officials and advocates say New Yorkers should care what happens behind prison walls.

"If you send somebody who's already troubled to prison and they come back and have undergone the horrors of rape, they're subject to come back in worse shape and maybe be more violent," says Aubrey.

The State Department of Corrections says it has zero tolerance for sexual abuse and encourage staff and inmates to report any problems...

Department of Correctional Services spokesman Erik Kriss released a statement that says, "We will work with the Department of Justice to see, based on the anonymous self-reporting data presented, if there are in fact identifiable patterns of abuse and to determine how much of the issue may be a question of interpretation and perception.”

Kaiser, an inmate advocate, says the report's release only brings awareness and the hope of change.

"The first step is sunshine," he says.

To watch the video, click here.

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