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«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 ...»

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Dumond, 2003). Hensley (2002) explained that the rapid growth of prisons resulted from societal values. Citizens' fear of crime, increased media coverage, stricter legislation, the war on drugs, and more severe sentencing laws were listed as factors contributing to the influx of prisoners being incarcerated. Facilities are now overcrowded, understaffed, and unsafe (Hensley, 2002).

Hensley (2002) suggested that overcrowding directly leads to violence and that rape in prison is a ramification of overcrowded detention facilities. Additionally, Toch, Adams, and Grant (1989) found that prisons operating over capacity exhibited more violence than prisons operating at or below capacity. According to Kupers (1996), the majority of state and federal facilities are profusely crowded. Further, he described different methods used to house inmates in overpopulated facilities. Dayrooms and gymnasiums are converted into dormitories and numerous prisoners are forced to house with a roommate in cells designed for single inmates (Kupers, 1996). Kupers (1996) explained that the outcome of such overcrowding is unhealthy, unsafe, and creates unproductive environments. Additionally, overcrowding impedes the rehabilitation process in detention (Kupers, 1996).

Location and Timing of Assaults and Lack of Staff Sexual assault occurs in all types of correctional facilities, in multiple locations in these facilities, and at all different times throughout the day and night (Jenness et al., 2007). According to Struckman-Johnson et al. (1996), staff and inmates both reported lack of staffing as a major feature in the occurrence of prison rape. Nacci and Kane (1982) indicated that assaults often occur when inmates first arrive in a facility, with most inmates reporting assaults within the first month of incarceration. Abuses most frequently occur in places where staff is not readily able to view the assaults and at times when staff is not present (English & Heil, 2005). Also, abuses are more likely to occur in dormitory or barrack style housing than in single cells occupied by only one or two inmates (English & Heil, 2005). However, Austin et al. (2006) concluded that cellblocks with solid cell fronts make rape more feasible because they reduce noise within the unit, permit privacy, and limit visual observation by staff. These findings demonstrate the need for enhanced security measures and additional personnel.

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Rape is one of the nation's most seriously under-reported crimes (Sabo, Kupers, & London, 2001). According to Kilpatrick, Edmunds, and Seymour (1992), no more than 16% of rape survivors report their rapes. It has been concluded that men are even less likely than women to report sexual abuse (Pino & Meier, 1999). As in the community, inmates who are victimized are often ashamed to report abuse (McGuire, 2005). Dumond (1992) found that of the estimated 1000 prison sexual assaults that took place yearly; only three percent were ever reported. In addition, prisoners face more barriers following rape than do rape survivors found in the community. For inmates who do report abuse the reality is adverse, as much abuse does not end following such reporting (Mariner, 2001). The likelihood of abused inmates being re-targeted is high (English & Heil, 2005). One study reported that the average rape survivor suffered nine individual incidents of abuse (Struckman-Johnson et al., 1996). The fear of being labeled, being targeted, and not being protected, along with immense guilt, can cause individuals to not report abuse when it occurs (English & Heil, 2005).

Code of Silence Prisoners and some staff view reporting sexual assault as feeble. In the prison setting snitching is often met with retaliation and further victimization (Kupers, 2001).

Kupers (2001) also suggested that when rape is reported officials typically pressure victims to reveal the name of their assailant(s), often worsening circumstances for the rape survivor. The code of silence is further fostered when inmates feel that their reports will go uninvestigated and ignored (Dumond, 2003).

Staff Attitudes and Their Influence on Reporting The attitudes of staff regarding rape in confinement is a serious concern found when examining the factors contributing to the phenomenon of sexual abuse in detention (Dumond, 2003; English & Heil, 2005). Eigenberg (2000) suggested that prison officials can either help deter and prevent rape or indirectly facilitate rape. Struckman-Johnson and Struckman-Johnson (2000) found the careless attitudes of prison officials regarding sexual coercion in detention settings to be a significant factor that promotes prisoner rape.

When guards were surveyed about the prevalence of prison rape it was found that many guards believed prison rape to be uncommon in their facility. Dumond (2003) found that inmates were highly unlikely to report abuse to staff due to fear of retaliation by the perpetrator and other inmates and fear that the guards would not take their reports seriously.

Eigenberg (2000) established that the majority of correctional officers interviewed held stereotypical views toward homosexuality. Furthermore, officers' religiosity and views on homosexuality affected responses or lack of response to inmate rape. Eigenberg found that younger, male, religious, or less educated officers more often held negative views regarding homosexuality and younger, female, or less religious officers were more likely to support egalitarian attitudes toward women. Moreover, officers who held repressive attitudes toward women and officers who condemned homosexuality were most likely to blame victims. Further, officers who did not victim-blame were found to define assaultive situations as rape (Eigenberg, 2000).





Eigenberg (2000) pointed out that correctional officers are directly responsible for formal rule enforcement in prison facilities and for presenting inmate violations to disciplinary boards. Therefore, a significant amount of responsibility and power regarding responding to rape falls in the hands of correctional staff. Eigenberg (2000) suggested that some officers might use the threat of sexual violence to control or intimidate inmates and that officers potentially tolerate rape because it makes inmates, as a whole, more manageable. Most notably, Eigenberg (2000) explained that officers likely fail to enforce regulations because they define some acts as consensual homosexuality rather than coercive acts of violence. Eigenberg (2000) suggested that distinguishing rape from consensual sex in prison is not an easy task as extortion techniques are often employed. Thus, unless a rape was committed with the presence of a weapon or clear violence and physical injury, officers may not recognize inmate rapes.

Eigenberg (2000) also explained that inmates and officers perceive the role of prison guards in the occurrence of prison rape quite differently. Inmates reported that guards are unresponsive and that they contribute to prison rape. Guards generally reported that they respond accordingly to incidences of prison rape (Eigenberg, 2000).

Eigenberg (2000) suggested that guards potentially do not respond to rape because they do not define certain types of rapes as sexual assaults and because they may hold attitudes about different types of rape as being precipitated by the victim. Eigenberg (2000) concluded that nearly one-fourth of the officers interviewed did not consider it rape when an inmate threatened to identify another inmate as a snitch unless he engaged in sexual acts or when an inmate was forced to pay off a debt through sexual acts.

Unfortunately, staff values and perceptions significantly contribute to rape in detention settings (Dumond, 2003). Thus, staff responses are critical components in the prevalence of reporting sexual abuse. Although, the dynamics that determine levels of reporting sexual abuse vary, it is crucial for policies to acknowledge reasons why inmates are reluctant to report abuse in the prison community (English & Heil, 2005). In addition, such barriers should be eliminated from these institutions. Eigenberg (2000) suggested that staff training be employed to emphasize which sexual acts constitute rape, as prison guards cannot react adequately if they fail to define rape effectively.

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Although sexual abuse constitutes a crime in all 50 states, there are significantly low prosecution rates of inmate-on-inmate sexual abuse. When rape occurs in prison it is not always considered a crime that can be prosecuted. The requirement for prisoners to take action following assaults is to prove physical harm {Farmer v. Brennan, 1994). Not only does the majority of prison rape go un-prosecuted, prisoner rights have commonly been disregarded at all levels, including institutionally (PREA, 2003). Surprisingly, it was not until the 1990s that the majority of U.S. states enacted laws to prohibit sexual abuse of inmates by staff (Kunselman et al., 2002).

Typical responses following sexual assault in detention settings drastically affect the rate at which inmates report abuse (Dumond, 2003). Kupers (1996) explained that when rape is reported prison officials tend to pressure the victims to identify their assailants although it is known that snitching is not accepted in the prison culture and usually is met with retaliation. Even more inappropriate, guards sometimes overlook sexual assault or doubt the victims' reports (Eigenberg, 2000). Kupers (1996) suggested that these types of responses to reports of rape add to the trauma the victim experiences.

–  –  –

Inmates who have been sexually assaulted during incarceration appear to blame themselves for their victimization due to a lack of experience and an inability to successfully navigate the prison culture and protect themselves (Jenness et al., 2007).

According to Jenness et al. (2007), many inmates who survive rape express fear of victimization and concern for personal safety. In addition, inmates are at an increased risk for developing PTSD, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and contracting HIV and other STDs (Dumond & Dumond, 2002; Jenness et al., 2007; Kilpatrick et al., 1992;

Maruschak, 2004; Oakie, 2007; Pinkerton, Galletly, & Seal, 2007). Further, inmates who have been sexually abused are at an extremely heightened risk of committing suicide to cope with their abuse and to avoid further suffering (Dooley, 1990; Haycock, 1991;

Lockwood, 1980; Struckman-Johnson & Struckman-Johnson, 2000; Toch & Kupers, 1999; Tucker, 1982; Wooden & Parker, 1982). Lastly, inmates who have survived rape are less likely to successfully reintegrate into society (Dumond & Dumond, 2002).

Mental Health Implications Kilpatrick et al. (1992) found that impacts on rape survivors are significant.

Dumond and Dumond (2002) suggested that prison rape survivors frequently suffer severe psychological harm. Short-term affects of sexual abuse on victims include guilt, shame, fear, anxiety, tension, an exaggerated startle response, depression, anger, impaired memory and concentration, and rapid mood swings (Herman, 1992; Petrak & Hedge, 2002). Struckman-Johnson and Struckman-Johnson (2000) concluded that sexual abuse survivors reported suicidal ideations resulting from the sexual violence experienced and the possibility of future sexual harm. Additionally, the trauma of sexual assault may emotionally affect the victim for years (Jenness et al., 2007), potentially impairing the normal functioning of individuals and contributing to depression, phobias, and the inability to maintain basic activities (Cotton & Groth, 1982; Dumond & Dumond, 2002;

Goyer & Eddleman, 1984).

Physical Effects Prison rape survivors are at a serious risk for contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (Okie, 2007). A disproportionate number of inmates are infected with HIV compared to the general population (Pinkerton et al., 2007). According to Maruschak (2004), an estimated 1.9% of men and 2.8% of women incarcerated have HIV. Pinkerton et al. (2007) suggested that this prevalence rate is likely a conservative approximation. According to Maruschak (1999), rates of HIV infection are 5 times higher among the inmate population than among the general population.

Pinkerton et al. (2007) estimated that male inmates raped once in prison by five men have a 1 in 477 risk of getting infected with HIV compared to a 1 in 98 chance if raped seven to 35 additional times. Surprisingly, their estimate was quite conservative.

They based their calculations on a prison population of 1.4 million men and used the low prevalence rate of 1% to determine their findings. They predicted that of the 14,000 men who have or will be raped in prison, between 43 and 93 of these men have or will acquire HIV (Pinkerton et al., 2007). Women have an even higher risk of infection. It has been reported that 3.5% of all female state prison inmates were HIV positive, compared to 2.2% of male state prisoners; incarcerated women are three times more likely to be HIVinfected than incarcerated men (DeGroot, 2001; Maruschak, 1999).

Aside from physical diseases that are transmitted through sexual violence, many inmates suffer physical injuries resulting from such attacks. Dumond and Dumond (2002) explained that prison rape victims might require hospitalization for broken bones, bleeding, and other physical harm resulting from violent assaults.

Consequences to Society Sexual violence in prison not only impacts the inmates significantly, it can compromise the well-being of communities (Jones & Pratt, 2008). Societal consequences include an increased risk of crime by the rape survivor, an increased spread of STDs to the public, and a reduction in the likeliness of a smooth transition back into society as a productive citizen (English & Heil, 2005). English and Heil (2005) also found an increased likelihood of racial tension, both in and outside of prison, and an increased risk of violence both aimed at the rape survivor and precipitated by him.

Diamond and Dumond (2002) suggested that psychological harm, suffered as a result of prison rape, negatively affects reintegration into communities. Pinkerton et al.

(2007) suggested that the only way to reduce the consequences carried over to society by prison rape survivors is to reduce the incidence of prison rape. Thus, reducing the transmission of diseases in the prison setting will also reduce the spread of diseases within communities.



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