The study found that the victimization rate of inmates to be approximately 9.6 percent – almost twice the rate stated in a similar report from 2008. However, the previous study was based on a survey of inmates in both state and federal institutions, while this year’s is solely focused on the state level.
Upon examining data from surveys of former prisoners, researchers found that a majority of the alleged victims were abused during their time in state prisons, but some occurred in local jails and halfway houses as well.
Perhaps most concerning was the finding that episodes of violence practically went hand-in-hand with sexual abuse incidents.
“Among all victims of inmate-on-inmate sexual violence, a quarter said they had been physically held down or restrained, and a quarter had been physically harmed or injured,” reads the DOJ report.
Approximately 29 percent of victims reported bruises, sprains and other minor injuries as a result of abuse, but 23 percent reported more severe injuries, such as broken bones and lacerations.
Sexual misconduct among prison staff members was another focus of the report. According to the study, nearly seven of eight instances of staff sexual misconduct involved members of the opposite sex. In addition, more than 75 percent of the former prisoners who reported staff sexual misconduct were male inmates claiming sexual contact with female staff members.
The Justice Department’s report included an action plan designed to curb these trends. Specific steps include screening inmates more closely for signs of potential abuse, as well as more extensive training for prison employees.
“The standards we establish today reflect the fact that sexual assault crimes committed within our correctional facilities can have devastating consequences for individual victims and for communities far beyond our jails and prisons,” says Attorney General Eric Holder.