«ABSTRACT THE SOCIAL INJUSTICE OF PRISON RAPE: A HISTORICAL ANALYSIS By Francy Lynn Jenko August 2010 The purpose of this review is to gain a better ...»
Youth are also at great risk for abuse. According to the report In the Shadows, juveniles ages 13 to 18 are exceptionally vulnerable to abuse in adult facilities (NPREC, 2006). The rate of victimization for youth housed with adults is 5 times that of youth held in juvenile facilities (Forst, Fagan, & Vivona, 1989). Moreover, youth housed with adults are 8 times more likely to commit suicide than those who are housed with other juvenile offenders (Forst et al., 1989). Unfortunately, sexual violence is also prevalent in juvenile detention facilities. According to Beck and Hughes (2005), juvenile detention facilities reported the highest incidence of sexual perpetration by staff compared to adult facilities. Staff committed 41% of the substantiated incidents while the remaining 59%) were carried out by other youth (Beck & Hughes, 2005). Snyder and Sickmund (2006) indicated that youth reported close to 3,000 allegations in a single year.
Mental Health and Inmates Toch and Kupers (1999) analyzed the mentally ill inmate population and concluded that they are at risk for mistreatment in detention, which can lead to trauma and exacerbate emotional problems. He suggested that inmates who have mental health problems are overwhelmingly represented in the inmate populace (Toch & Kupers, 1999). Further, Toch and Kupers reported that the prevalence of mental disorders among inmates is at least 5 times higher than that of the general population. Moreover, Torrey (1997) reported that more mentally ill individuals are housed in jails and prisons in the United States than in psychiatric hospitals. Lamb (1989) indicated that the deinstitutionalization of the mental health system caused an influx of inmates with severe mental health disorders in correctional facilities.
Wolff et al. (2007) sampled 7,528 inmates from 11 male facilities and one female facility through an audio-computerized survey. They based the incidence of mental disorders on self-reports made by inmates based on information such as previous mental health treatment. Wolff et al. estimated rates of sexual victimization among inmates with and without mental disorders. Based on their findings, 1 in 12 male inmates with a mental disorder compared to 1 in 33 male inmates without mental disorders reported at least one occasion of sexual violence by another inmate over a 6-month period.
Among female inmates with a mental disorder, sexual assault was over 3 times higher than what was reported by male inmates with mental disorders. African American and Hispanic inmates with mental disorders, regardless of gender, reported higher rates of sexual violence than non-Hispanic White inmates (Wolff et al., 2007). The study found that the majority of inmates who reported sexual victimization did not report completed rapes. They also reported that both male and female inmates might be at greater or lesser risk for sexual violence in the community, based on their mental health disorders and community characteristics (Wolff et al., 2007). Nevertheless, these findings indicate that inmates who have mental health disorders are at a heightened risk for sexual victimization.
Not only are inmates with mental health problems more likely victims in prison, they also report previous violence in the community (Wolff et al., 2007). Kupers (1996) reported that inmates frequently lack a support system, have often experienced childhood sexual abuse, and tend to be plagued by mental illness at much higher rates than those in the general population. Collins and Bailey (1990) suggested that a significant number of inmates experience severe and repeated trauma prior to incarceration. Such trauma likely causes these inmates to be more susceptible to PTSD, suicide, and other mental health problems (Kupers, 1996).
Numerous studies have focused on ethnic disparities between perpetrators and their victims (Carroll, 1977; Chonco, 1989; Davis, 1968; Moss et al., 1979). Moss et al.
(1979) concluded that all the perpetrators in their study were Chicano or Black.
Furthermore, they determined that rape in prison is highly precipitated by race. Carroll (1977) found there to be a high relationship between nonconsensual sex and racial tension. According to Carroll, perpetrators were likely to be of different racial backgrounds than their victims.
In an earlier study, Davis (1968) reported that 56% of rape incidents involved Black aggressors and White victims, 29% involved Black aggressors and Black victims, 15% involved White aggressors and White victims, and no cases involved White aggressors and Black victims. However, it should be noted that at the time of Davis's study, in the 1960s, 4 out of every 5 prisoners in the Philadelphia prison system were Black. Thus, this alone may have been the cause for studies to indicate Black inmates as the highest rape perpetrators in prison. Further, Bowker (1980) suggested that the findings would be quite different if the circumstances were reversed and there were a small percentage of Black prisoners compared to other ethnicities.
However, Carroll (1977) studied rape rates in a prison where only 22% of the prisoners were Black and found that this did not affect the degree to which Black men were perpetrators. He determined that Black inmates hold significant power in detention facilities because they are organized and have a high degree of group cohesion compared to other ethnic groups. He also found that White gang leaders facilitate interracial rape in order to get victims to agree to consensual relationships or pairings following their rapes by Black inmates. Therefore, it appears that White prisoners gain protection from other White inmates not due to solidarity, but for sexual favors.
Additionally, Carroll (1977) suggested that there is an element of "Black Rage" in prison rape. According to Carroll, Blacks have been generally oppressed as a group and use rape in prison to retaliate against Whites. Therefore, rape is used to gain power, dominance, and a sense of greater masculinity (Bowker, 1980; Cotton & Groth; English & Heil, 2005; Lockwood, 1980; Ross & Richards, 2002) and can be used by different ethnic groups to gain power, dominance, and control over other races.
Davis (1968) hypothesized that Black prisoners may organize into prison gangs as a way to maintain status. Moreover, he suggested that refusal to participate in gang rape might lead to victimization. Davis also hypothesized that lower-class Blacks may perpetrate rape in jail because they have been unable to affirm their masculinity outside of prison. Further, incarceration exacerbates their lack of masculinity leading them to rape others in an effort to demonstrate dominance.
Although many studies suggest that White inmates are most often victimized, Jenness et al. (2007) found different results when studying the incidence of prison rape in California prisons. According to Jenness et al., Black inmates are considerably more vulnerable to sexual assault in California correctional facilities. Of the inmates sampled, 50% of the non-heterosexual inmates who reported sexual assault were Black and, even more pronounced, 83% of the heterosexual inmates who reported being sexually assaulted were Black (Jenness et al., 2007).
While many studies seem to suggest that ethnicity factors into rape in prison, it is important to note that not all victims, nor all perpetrators, are from one ethnic background, and that ethnicity is not a singular factor found in prison sexual violence (Kunselman, Tewksbury, Dumond, & Dumond, 2002). Further, Kunselman et al. (2002) explained that victims of prison rape generally display several characteristics associated with inmates at risk for abuse. Thus, ethnic background is not the only common characteristic found among victims.
Bowker (1980) suggested that, "Interracial rape is like all social problems in that its epidemiology changes over time in responses to changes in the social environment" (p. 10). Bowker also indicated that White men historically perpetrated rape on Black women. Thus, rape should be examined according to who has social power, rather than by whether individuals of different racial backgrounds have a propensity toward sexual violence. Although rape in prison does have a correlation with race, race itself is not the main factor, as is evidenced by rapes perpetrated by inmates on victims of their own racial background (Carroll, 1977; Davis, 1968).
Extortion is a common theme in prison and much violence perpetrated amongst inmates, results from efforts to seize or maintain control of the illegal economy found in detention facilities (Mariner, 2001). Often, prison gangs run underground markets, including the trading of inmates or sexual slavery (Mariner, 2001). Prison gangs are considered a security threat and generally are organized, powerful, and structured groups (Hensley, 2002). They are often responsible for the preponderance of violence found in prison facilities (Camp & Camp, 1988; Cooksey, 1999). Both Bowker (1980) and Scacco (1982) described how inexperienced inmates frequently accept a service or good and then are expected to pay for them. Payment can be monetary or physical. When inmates are not able or unwilling to pay, physical and sexual attacks may occur.
Prison rape incidents often involve multiple perpetrators (Banbury, 2004;
Mariner, 2001; Struckman-Johnson et al., 1996). According to Jenness et al. (2007), gangs play a role in prison sexual misconduct, with 45% of the incidents reportedly involving a gang member assaulting a non-gang member. Some inmates have been forced to be sex slaves throughout the prison or to certain groups in the prison subpopulation, such as to a prison gang (Castle et al., 2002; Knowles, 1999; Mariner, 2001;
Wooden & Parker, 1982).
Inmates who are most likely to perpetrate abuse in prison include those who are most likely to perpetrate abuse outside of prison (Berk et al., 2006). Research indicates that individuals incarcerated for violent crimes, those affiliated with gangs, those who are accustomed to prison, those who spent time in juvenile detention facilities, those who are older and stronger than their victims, those who are younger than thirty years old, and those who tend to break other prison rules are at an increased risk of perpetrating abuse while in confinement (Berk et al., 2006; English & Heil, 2005; Mariner, 2001; Nacci & Kane, 1982). Further, inmates who are young and those serving sentences of more than 10 years also seem to be most likely to perpetrate offenses (Berk et al., 2006). However, it was determined that inmates who are serving life in prison are not at an increased risk of engaging in serious misconduct, as might be assumed (Berk et al., 2006).
Staff as Perpetrators Tewksbury and West (2000) indicated that there is a significant power differential at play between correctional officials and inmates, which makes abuse of inmates by staff extremely easy. It was not until recently that laws criminalizing sexual behavior between staff and inmates were enacted. Previously, guards were able to get away with perpetrating sexual abuse on inmates (Tewksbury & West, 2000). Research commonly indicated that staff, not other inmates, violated women inmates (Amnesty International, 2001; Human Rights Watch, 1996; Smith, 2001). Similar to the common impression that guards singly assaulted female inmates, it was generally concluded that male inmates were only at risk of sexual violence at the hands of other inmates (MGuire, 2005).
However, other research has suggested that male and female inmates are at risk of assault by both staff and fellow inmates. Struckman-Johnson et al. (1996) reported that guards perpetrated 18% of incidents reported by male inmates. Further, Struckman-Johnson and Struckman-Johnson (2002) found that fellow inmates perpetrated nearly half of the 8% to 27% of incidents reported by female inmates, while guards were responsible for around 45% of the reported incidents.
Numerous factors contribute to prison culture and prison norms. Conditions associated with the occurrence of prison sexual violence include racial conflict, dormitory or barrack style housing, facilities with a high number of violent offenders, blind spots, and understaffing (Mariner 2001; Nacci & Kane, 1982; Struckman-Johnson & Struckman-Johnson, 2000).
Lack of Proper Inmate Classification Berk et al. (2006) conducted a study to determine which inmates are most likely to engage in serious misconduct while imprisoned. Serious misconduct included drug trafficking, assault, rape, attempted murder, and other offenses that met criteria for serious misconduct (Berk et al., 2006). They were able to accurately predict serious misconduct over 50% of the time, with less than 3% of inmates over a 24-month period having been reported for serious misconduct (Berk et al., 2006).
They concluded that classification systems can be designed and employed to identify individuals most likely to offend and then such inmates can be placed in more restrictive housing (Berk et al., 2006). Utilizing such a system could potentially prevent rape from occurring in prison. Berk et al. (2006) explained that there is a concern of how to best maintain order while staying cost-effective. This fiscal concern likely impedes the probability of employing methods to help reduce the occurrence of rape in prison. The average cost to house a single inmate, according to Berk et al., is $30,000 per year. The cost increases significantly for more secure housing (Berk et al., 2006). Thus, it does not seem financially feasible to place large quantities of inmates in restrictive environments.
Berk et al. (2006) also explained a flaw in the current classification system. All infractions are treated the same, with minor infractions being regarded as equal to major infractions. They highly recommended a system that focuses on identifying inmates who are most likely to commit serious offenses, rather than treating all offenses the same.
Thereby, ranking infractions based on levels of severity would be significantly beneficial in minimizing sexual violence among inmates (Berk et al., 2006).
Overcrowding Research points to the growing prison population, overcrowding, and understaffing as the main culprits in the occurrence of prison rape (Hensley, 2002;