Government Study Confirms Sexual Abuse Epidemic in County Jails

Stop Prisoner Rape, Los Angeles and Washington, DC, June 25, 2008. A national survey of inmates in local jails, released today by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), provides a snapshot view of a serious human rights crisis. According to the study, an estimated 24,700 (or 3.2%) of jail inmates surveyed reported having been sexually abused at that facility in the past six months.

“The data provided by the BJS today are alarming enough, but unfortunately they represent only a fraction of the true number of jail inmates who are victimized,” said Lovisa Stannow, Executive Director of Stop Prisoner Rape (SPR).

Unlike prisoners, who have been convicted of a felony and are serving a sentence of more than one year, jail detainees are primarily people awaiting trial or serving very short sentences. The number of admissions to local jails over the course of a year is approximately 17 times higher than the nation’s jail population on any given day, meaning that the BJS surveyors were able to cover only a very small proportion of jail detainees over an entire year.

Today’s National Inmate Survey (NIS) is the second such survey to be conducted by the BJS. The first one was conducted among inmates in state and federal prisons. Both BJS surveys were mandated by the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) of 2003.

An international human rights organization, Stop Prisoner Rape (SPR) is the only group in the U.S. dedicated exclusively to eliminating sexual abuse in all forms of detention. SPR was instrumental in securing passage of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA).

For more information, visit or call Lovisa Stannow at 213-384-1400 (ext. 103) or 310-617-4350 (cell).