Half of Sexual Abuse Claims in American Prisons Involve Guards, Study Says

Of the fewer cases in which the sexual abuse claims against correctional officers were found to be substantiated, more than three-quarters of those officers were fired or resigned, while 45 percent were referred for prosecution and only 1 percent were actually convicted of a crime.

The survey did not break down figures between inmates of different sexual orientations, although Beck said that previous surveys on non-heterosexual and gender nonconforming inmates had revealed much higher rates of sexual victimization.

The study comes the same week as reports of a Justice Department investigation into allegations of rampant sexual abuse at Alabama's Tutwiler Prison, where inmates were said to "universally fear for their safety" and officers allegedly forced women to engage in sex acts just to obtain basic sanitary supplies.

Brockmann said that shedding light upon and reducing sexual abuse and harassment in prisons like these remains a challenge across the country.

"We know there are hundreds of thousands of more cases out there," he said. "That slight increase in reporting I hope is a harbinger of things to come, that there are more individuals who feel safe or more mechanisms to report abuse and avoid retaliation.

"What will make a difference is when we see a few tens of thousands of cases reported," he said. "That will show something."

The reports, Sexual Victimization Reported by Adult Correctional Authorities, 2009?11 (NCJ 243904), and Survey of Sexual Violence in Adult Correctional Facilities, 2009?11 - Statistical Tables (NCJ 244227), were written by Allen J. Beck, Ramona R. Rantala and Jessica Rexroat of BJS.

The reports, related documents and additional information about BJS's statistical publications and programs can be found on the BJS website.

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