Saturday, August 06, 2005

Texas leads nation in prison rape allegations

Texas reported the highest number of allegations of prison rape in the country according to the first-ever national study on the subject conducted by the Department of Justice: inmates alleged 550 incidents of prisoner-on-prisoner rape in 2003, but in only 13 cases were charges sustained. Texas' rate of sustained allegations was abominably low -- about 2%, compared to about 30% sustained nationally. It makes you doubt whether the Texas Department of Criminal Justice takes these cases seriously. Reported Reuters:
Of the 7,000 investigations completed by the [Justice] department, about one-third of cases, or about 2,100, were substantiated, the report said.

Nearly 42 percent of reported cases of sexual violence involved prison staff abuse of inmates, while 37 percent was inmate-on-inmate violence.

Males comprised 90 percent of inmate-on-inmate violence.

The report also noted that sexual violence in state-run youth prison facilities was 10 times higher than that in adult prisons.
That staff are alleged to commit prison rape as much or more than prisoners comes as a surprise to to me. I know some of that's retaliatory -- false allegations from angry prisoners -- but upon reflection, confirmed instances crop up pretty frequently. Here in Austin, for example, the crux of a prison rape case a few years ago against staff at the Travis State Jail (then operated by the private prison company, Wackenhut) centered on staff-on-inmate situations.

See the full study here (pdf), and responses from watchdog groups Stop Prison Rape, Watching Justice, and the Committee on Safety and Abuse in America's Prisons.

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