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US: One out of 10 prisoners report sexual attacks

Last Updated: Friday, May 18, 2012 - 00:38

Washington: Almost 1 in every 10 former state or local prisoners in America reported being sexually victimized at least once by an inmate or facility staff member in prison, according to a study released today by the Justice Department.

The findings, reported by the Bureau of Justice Statistics in the first-ever National Former Prisoners Survey, may indicate a greater problem with sexual victimization than previously thought.

Surveyors found that 9.6 per cent of former inmates said they were sexually victimized in jails, prisons and halfway houses.

A somewhat similar survey of still-imprisoned convicts done by the same agency in 2008-09 found that only 4.4 per cent of state and federal inmates said they were sexually victimized.

The difference may be because the former inmates in the current survey were asked about a longer time period than in the previous survey, said Allen J Beck, one of the authors of the survey.

But it also could be that former inmates may be more willing to talk about the sexual victimization than the inmates currently housed inside those facilities, who have concerns about retaliation or retribution for speaking up.

Critics have said inmates may be willing to lie on these surveys in an attempt to embarrass a facility or refuse to report an incident for fear of retaliation.

"By looking at inmates who are out of that environment, who no longer have that immediate fear of retaliation, of retribution, who moreover don`t have an immediate motivation to falsely accuse since they`re out of the facility entirely, we get a sense that through interviewing these former inmates that our past work is confirmed, that some of the concerns about false negatives and false positives may have been overstated," Beck said.
The study defines sexual victimization as all types of unwanted sexual activity with other inmates, abusive sexual activity with other inmates and both willing and unwilling sexual activity with staff.


First Published: Friday, May 18, 2012 - 00:38
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