Friday, August 17, 2007

US Prisons: America's Exportable Torture Chambers

Sexual violence on the rise in US prisons

Rape, sexual harassment and violence in US jails were on the rise in 2006, with prison guards responsible for more than half the cases, the Department of Justice said Thursday in a report.

In sheer numbers, 6,528 cases of sexual violence were reported last year in US prisons, a 4.5 percent increase over 2005 and a 21 percent increase over 2004, when the Bureau of Justice and Statistics began gathering rape data from federal penitentiaries and a sampling of state prisons.

Part of the increase may be the result of a growing tendency among inmates to report incidents as victims or witnesses, said the report, noting that 55 percent of allegations were "unsubstantiated" and 29 percent "unfounded."

Of all incidents, 36 percent involved "staff sexual misconduct" toward inmates, consensual and nonconsensual, and 17 percent staff sexual harassment.

Meanwhile 34 percent had to do with "inmate-on-inmate" nonconsensual sex acts, and 13 percent with abusive sexual contacts between inmates.

The sexual relationship "appeared to be willing" in 57 percent of incidents of staff sexual misconduct and harassment, the report said, adding that "staff perpetrators" were 58 percent female in federal prisons, but only 20 percent in state facilities.

The United States has the highest prison population in the world, with 2.24 million people behind state and federal prison bars in mid-2006, according to most recent statistics.

Original article posted here.

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