Sexual Abuse in Prisons: The Shame of the American Criminal Justice System

| Mon Jul. 31, 2006 2:35 PM EDT

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According to a new study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics finds, three prisoners in a thousand report they were sexually abused or harassed. But the experts--and the study's authors, for that matter--author's aren't buying it, saying inmates are reluctant to come forward because they fear reprisal, adhere to a code of silence, do not trust the staff, or are ashamed or embarrassed. Which figures.


"It's a real and serious problem," said Malcolm Feeley, professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley. "It may be the
single largest shame of the American criminal justice system, and that's saying a lot."

Other studies have found much higher rates of abuse. One researcher has found that 10 percent of male Midwestern state penitentiary inmates have been raped, and she says this is one more reason for not mixing juveniles in with the general adult prison population. "When you put kids under 18 in prison with adults, the incidence of rape and abuse is five times higher." And lest we brush this off as purely a prison problem:
"We get reports that people who are raped and abused in prison will rape and abuse others when they leave prison." (Via AP)

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