Government Report Confirms:
Sexual Abuse in Detention is Preventable

WASHINGTON, DC, August 26, 2008. A federal government report published today makes clear that sexual abuse in detention is preventable – not an inevitable part of prison life. International human rights organization Stop Prisoner Rape (SPR) welcomes the release of “Report on Rape in Federal and State Prisons in the U.S.,” by the Department of Justice Review Panel on Prison Rape.

The report highlights traits common among survivors of sexual violence in detention, as well as characteristics of perpetrators of this type of abuse. In addition, it spells out features of prisons with especially high and low levels of sexual abuse.

“Not surprisingly, prisons that are understaffed, have high staff turnover, and don’t track inmate grievances properly are plagued by sexual abuse,” said Lovisa Stannow, Executive Director of Stop Prisoner Rape (SPR).

The report confirms that inmates who are small, young, non-violent, mentally ill, gay or transgender, in prison for the first time, and/or lacking a gang affiliation are particularly vulnerable to being abused while incarcerated. Detainees who have been sexually assaulted in the past are also identified as likely victims of further abuse.

“The letters we receive on a daily basis from prisoners who have been sexually abused confirm that these are traits that make inmates vulnerable. Corrections officials could prevent countless sexual assaults simply by not housing inmates known to be at risk with those known to be predatory,” explained Ms. Stannow.

The findings of the “Report on Rape in Federal and State Prisons in the U.S.” are based on public hearings that the Review Panel held in the spring of 2008. At those hearings, corrections officials from federal and state prisons were questioned about policies and practices at their facilities. The prisons highlighted at the hearings had been identified in a Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) report – “Sexual Victimization in State and Federal Prisons Reported by Inmates, 2007”.

SPR is the only non-governmental organization in the United States dedicated exclusively to eliminating sexual violence in detention. SPR was instrumental in securing passage of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) in 2003, which created the Review Panel on Prison Rape.

For more information, please contact Lovisa Stannow at 213-384-1400 ext.103.