United States


No conclusive national data exist regarding the prevalence of prisoner-on-prisoner rape and other sexual abuse in the United States.(348) Terror in the Prisons, the first book on rape in prison -- one aimed at a popular rather than an academic audience -- predicted in 1974 that "ten million" of the forty-six million Americans who are arrested at some point in their lives would be raped in prison.(349) Filled with gripping anecdotal accounts of prisoner-on-prisoner sexual abuse, the book offered no explanation as to how it arrived at this astonishingly high figure.

Few other commentators have even ventured to speculate on the national incidence of rape in prison, although some, extrapolating from small-scale studies, have come up with vague estimates as to its prevalence, suggesting that rape is "a rare event," that it "may be a staggering problem," or even that it is "virtually universal."(350) The obvious inconsistency of these estimates says much about the lack of reliable national data on the issue, as well as evidencing researchers' varying definitions of rape and other sexual abuse.

Unsurprisingly, when corrections officials are asked about the prevalence of rape in their prisons, they claim it is a exceptional occurrence rather than a systemic problem. Prison officials in New Mexico, for example, responding to our 1997 request for information regarding "the 'problem' of male inmate-on-inmate rape and sexual abuse" (the internal quotation marks are theirs), said that they had "no recorded incidents over the past few years."(351) The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services informed Human Rights Watch that such incidents were "minimal."(352) Only Texas, Ohio, Florida, Illinois and the Federal Bureau of Prisons said that they had more than fifty reported incidents in a given year, numbers which, given the large size of their prison systems, still translate into extremely low rates of victimization.(353)

Yet a recent academic study of an entire state prison system found an extremely high rate of sexual abuse, including forced oral and anal intercourse. In 1996, the year before Nebraska correctional officials told Human Rights Watch that prisoner-on-prison sexual abuse was uncommon, Professor Cindy Struckman-Johnson and her colleagues published the results of a survey of state prison inmates there. They concluded that 22 percent of male inmates had been pressured or forced to have sexual contact against their will while incarcerated.(354) Of these, over 50 percent had submitted to forced anal sex at least once.(355) Extrapolating these findings to the national level would give a total of over 140,000 inmates who have been anally raped.(356)

The following chapter does not offer a definitive answer as to the national incidence of prisoner-on-prisoner rape and other sexual abuse. It does, however, explain why Human Rights Watch considers the problem to be much more pervasive than correctional authorities acknowledge. Comparing the numbers collected by correctional authorities and academic experts, this chapter explains the factors leading to drastic underestimates of the frequency of prisoner-on-prisoner rape and other sexual abuse. It also examines the disparities in academic findings on the topic, which vary according to the different situations studied, the differing methodologies utilized, and the inconsistent definitions of rape and sexual abuse employed.

Chronic Underreporting

None of the types of prison rape described [what he calls "confidence rape," "extortion rape," "strong arm rape," etc.] are rare. If anything they are rarely reported. To give you an idea of how frequent rape is in prison, if victims would report every time they were raped in prison I would say that in the prison that I am in (which is a medium minimum security prison) there would be a reported incident every day.

--Pennsylvania inmate.

Only a small minority of victims of rape or other sexual abuse in prison ever report it to the authorities. Indeed, many victims--cowed into silence by shame, embarrassment and fear--do not even tell their family or friends of the experience.

The terrible stigma attached to falling victim to rape in prison, discussed above, discourages the reporting of abuse. Deeply ashamed of themselves, many inmates are reluctant to admit what has happened to them, particularly in situations in which they did not put up obvious physical resistance. Rather than wanting others to know of their victimization, their first and perhaps strongest instinct is to hide it. "I was too embarrassed to tell the [corrections officers] what had happened," explained a Kansas inmate. "The government acts as if a 'man' is supposed to come right out and boldly say 'I've been raped.' You know that if it is degrading for a woman, how much more for a man."(357) Some prisoners informed Human Rights Watch that they have told no one else, not even their family, of the abuse. "[Y]ou are the first person I've told in all of these years," said one, describing a rape that took place in 1981.(358)

Prisoners' natural reticence regarding rape is strongly reinforced by their fear of facing retaliation if they "snitch." As is well known, there is a strongly-felt prohibition among inmates against reporting another inmate's wrongdoing to the authorities. "Snitches" or "rats"--those who inform on other inmates--are considered the lowest members of the inmate hierarchy. "These people become victims of [assault] because of their acts in telling on other people," one inmate emphasized to Human Rights Watch.(359) In the case of rape, the tacit rule against snitching is frequently bolstered by specific threats from the perpetrators, who swear to the victim that they will kill him if he informs on them.(360)

Prisoners who failed to report their victimization explained these considerations to Human Rights Watch. In a typical account, a Colorado prisoner said:

    I never went to the authorities, as I was too fearful of the consequences from any other inmate. I already had enough problems, so didn't want to add to them by taking on the prison identity as a "rat" or "snitch." I already feared for my life. I didn't want to make it worse.(361)

It should be emphasized, moreover, that prisoners' failure to report abuses is directly related to the prison authorities' inadequate response to reports of abuse. If prisoners could be certain that they would be protected from retaliation by the perpetrator of abuse, then they would obviously be much more likely to inform the authorities. But rather than keeping the victimized inmate safe from retaliation, prison authorities often leave them vulnerable to continued abuse. As is described at length below, Human Rights Watch has learned of numerous cases in which the victimized inmate was not removed from the housing area in which he was victimized, even with the perpetrator remaining there. In other cases, victimized inmates are transferred to another housing area or prison, but still face retaliation. As a Texas prisoner explained:

    [T]he first time I was raped, I did the right thing. I went to an officer, told him what happened, got the rectal check, the whole works. Results? I get shipped to [another prison]. Six months later, same dude that raped me is out of seg and on the same wing as I am. I have to deal with 2 jackets now: snitch & punk. I . . . had to think real fast to stay alive. This was my first 2 years in the system. After that I knew better.(362)

A Utah prisoner had a nearly identical story to tell:

    The first time [I was raped] I told on my attackers. All [the authorities] did was moved me from one facility to another. And I saw my attacker again not too long after I tolded on him. Then I paid for it. Because I tolded on him, he got even with me. So after that, I would not, did not tell again.(363)

Past academic research has confirmed the prevalence of underreporting. The 1996 Nebraska study found that only 29 percent of victimized inmates had informed prison officials of the abuses they suffered.(364) Similarly, a 1988 survey of correctional officers in Texas found that 73 percent of respondents believed that inmates do not report rape to officials.(365) A groundbreaking 1968 study of Philadephia penal institutions found that of an estimated 2,000 rapes that occurred, only ninety-six had been reported to prison authorities.(366)

Low Numbers Reported by State Correctional Authorities

When questioned on the topic, state prison officials report that rape is an infinitely rare occurrence. Human Rights Watch conducted a three-year survey of state departments of correction, as well as the Federal Bureau of Prisons, asking, among other things, about reported incidents of male inmate-on-inmate rape and sexual abuse.(367) Of the forty-seven corrections departments that responded to at least one of our requests for information, only twenty-three were even able to provide such statistics, with others suggesting that inmate-on-inmate sexual abuse was so infrequent that it was unnecessary to maintain separate data on the topic. The response of Hawaiian prison officials was typical:

While there have been isolated cases [of inmate-on-inmate sexual abuse] over the years, this behavior is not a major problem in our system. Due to the small number of cases, we do not have any statistics compiled on this subject.(368)

New Hampshire officials, similarly, told us:

    Because of the very small number of allegations of rape and the even smaller number of substantiated cases, the N.H. Department of Corrections does not maintain statistical data regarding this issue . . . . In conversation with [an officer in the Investigations Office] regarding your inquiry, he said that there are 'one or two allegations a year in our men's prison of rape.' He further stated that 'of 10 allegations, perhaps one actually was a rape.'(369)

Even California--which, with a population of over 150,000 inmates, is the largest corrections department in the United States--was unable to provide Human Rights Watch with data on the topic until 1999. Although the department had a separate data analysis unit charged with maintaining all types of information on state prisoners, it did not keep statistics on inmate-on-inmate rape or sexual abuse. Instead, all such cases were compiled within the general category of inmate-on-inmate battery.(370) Only in response to Human Rights Watch's 1999 letter were they able to provide particularized data on the topic, presumably due to recent changes in record-keeping policies. The Federal Bureau of Prisons, on the other hand, was able to provide such information in 1996 and 1997, but in subsequent years reported that it did not maintain such statistics.(371)

Many other corrections departments told Human Rights Watch that they heard of only a handful of rape or sexual assault cases annually. Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Wisconsin, for example, all mentioned fewer than ten reported cases annually in the years for which they provided information.(372) Arizona, Arkansas, California, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, and Virginia identified between ten and fifty reported cases annually in the years for which they provided information, although Virginia noted that roughly half of its reported cases were, upon investigation, determined to be unfounded.(373)

Only Florida, Illinois, Ohio, Texas, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons acknowledged having received more than fifty allegations annually of rape or other sexual abuse in the years for which they provided information.(374) In Ohio, however, of the fifty-five reported cases in 1999, only eight were subsequently "confirmed as sexual assault." The remainder "were deemed to have been either consensual sex acts or simply fabrications by the alleged victim."(375) At any rate, since these five prison systems are among the largest in the country (ranking fifth, seventh, sixth, second, and third in size, respectively), the number of allegations of sexual victimization are still remarkably low.

By far the highest rate and highest absolute number of alleged inmate-on-inmate sexual assaults, according to the numbers provided by correctional departments, belong to Texas. With 237 allegations of sexual assault in 1999 (over double the number of allegations registered in 1998), compared to an inmate population of 146,574, Texas had one allegation of sexual assault for every 618 prisoners.(376)

High Numbers Estimated by Correctional Officers

The extremely low numbers of rapes reported by prison officials contrast with the much higher prevalence found in academic surveys of inmate victimization. But even more surprisingly, these low numbers stand in stark contrast to estimates made by correctional officers on the subject. Although only a few studies have been conducted to assess guards' beliefs regarding inmates' sexual victimization, they have uniformly found a high rate of inmate-on-inmate sexual abuse.

A corrections department internal survey of guards in a southern state (provided to Human Rights Watch on the condition that the state not be identified) found that line officers--those charged with the direct supervision of inmates--estimated that roughly one-fifth of all prisoners were being coerced into participation in inmate-on-inmate sex. Interestingly, higher-ranking officials--those at the supervisory level--tended to give lower estimates of the frequency of abuse, while inmates themselves gave much higher estimates: the two groups cited victimization rates of roughly one-eighth and one-third, respectively. Although the author of the survey was careful to note that it was not conducted in accordance with scientific standards, and thus its findings may not be perfectly reliable, the basic conclusions are still striking. Even taking only the lowest of the three estimates of coerced sexual activity--and even framing that one conservatively--more than one in ten inmates in the prisons surveyed was subject to sexual abuse.

Similarly, a 1988 study of line officers in the Texas prison system found that only 9 percent of officers believed that rape in prison was a "rare" occurrence, while 87 percent thought that it was not rare.(377) These findings are even more notable when one considers that the question was limited to instance of "rape"--not sexual abuse in general--a term that many people conceive of narrowly (typically believing that rape only occurs where force is used).

Finally, the 1996 Nebraska study found that prison staff in three men's prisons estimated that in all some 16 percent of male inmates were being pressured or forced into sexual contact.(378) The rates were slightly lower that those estimated by inmates in the same facilities.

Findings of Empirical Studies

A number of empirical studies have been conducted to measure the frequency of inmate-on-inmate sexual abuse, although only two such studies date from the past decade. Their findings as to the prevalence of sexual abuse--and rape in particular--have varied. Yet even those reporting a lower prevalence still differ, by at least an order of magnitude, from the numbers cited by corrections authorities, indicating that much needs to be done to sensitize the authorities to the problem. Several studies, moreover, have found shockingly high rates of sexual abuse.

The primary empirical studies of sexual abuse in men's penal facilities are: 1) a 1968 study of Philadelphia penal facilities; 2) a 1980 study of several New York state prisons; 3) a 1982 study of a medium-security California prison; 4) a 1982 study of several federal prisons; 5) a 1989 study of an Ohio prison; 6) a 1995 study of a medium-security Delaware prison; 7) the above-mentioned 1996 study of Nebraska state prisons, and 8) a 2000 study of seven prisons in four midwestern states.(379)

The first empirical study of the issue, sparked by reports that Philadephia pretrial detainees were being raped even in vans on the way to court, was conducted in 1968 by a local district attorney. After interviewing thousands of inmates and hundreds of correctional officers, as well as examining institutional records, he found that sexual assaults were "epidemic" in the Philadelphia system. "[V]irtually every slightly-built young man committed by the court is sexually approached within a day or two after his admission to prison," the author said. "Many of these young men are repeatedly raped by gangs of prisoners."(380) In all, he found that slightly over 3 percent of inmates--an estimated 2,000 men --had been sexually assaulted during the twenty-six-month period examined. Although he was careful to exclude instances of consensual homosexual contact from his findings, he also acknowledged that some instances of apparently consensual sex might in fact have a coercive basis, due to the "fear-charged atmosphere" of the penal system.

The New York study, conducted by criminologist Daniel Lockwood, was the second major effort to assess the prevalence of prisoner-on-prisoner sexual abuse. It too found that sexual targeting--typically accompanied by violence--was frequent, though actual rape much less common. According to Lockwood's data, based on interviews with eighty-nine randomly selected inmates, 28 percent had been the targets of sexual aggression at some point, but only one inmate had been raped.(381)

The 1982 study of a medium-security men's prison in California found that a startling 14 percent of prisoners had been forced into anal or oral sex. Based on data from anonymous questionnaires distributed to a random sampling of 200 members of the inmate population--or some 10 percent of the total inmates--the study emphasized that "sexual exploitation in prison is an actuality."(382) Indeed, asserted the authors, life behind bars is, for many inmates, "a criminal act itself."

Three subsequent empirical studies had mixed findings as to the prevalence of prisoner-on-prisoner rape and other sexual abuse. The federal prisons study, published in 1983, found that only one of 330 inmates had been forcibly sodomized while in federal prison while two others had been forced to "perform a sex act" (presumably fellatio or some other act besides sodomy). Twenty-nine percent of inmates did, however, state that they had been propositioned for sex while in their institution, and 11 percent had been "targets of sexual aggression." The authors defined sexual aggression narrowly, only considering acts that involved physical violence. Similarly, the Ohio and Delaware studies looked only at "rape" (which many people, inmates in particular, interpret as requiring the use of physical force), finding few incidents: none of the 137 inmates surveyed in Ohio had been victims of rape, and only one of 101 inmates surveyed in Delaware.(383) Five additional Delaware inmates did, however, say that they had been subject to an attempted rape; 4 percent of the inmates surveyed reported that they had witnessed at least one rape within the previous year, and 21.8 percent said that had witnessed at least one attempted rape.

The 1996 Nebraska study, discussed above, found an extremely high rate of sexual abuse, including forced or coerced oral and anal intercourse; it concluded that 22 percent of male had been sexually pressured or abused since being incarcerated. Notably, the authors focused on "unwanted" sexual contact--covering a much broader range of sexual activity than that simply involving physical force. And, in December 2000, the Prison Journal published the results of a similar study of inmates in seven men's prison facilities in four mid-western states. The results showed that 21 percent of the inmates had experienced at least one episode of pressured or forced sexual contact since being incarcerated, and at least 7 percent had been raped in their facility.(384)

It is obvious that precise conclusions as to the national prevalence of prisoner-on-prisoner sexual abuse cannot be drawn from the above studies.(385) Yet a closer examination of the studies reveals that their differing findings are not so much in contradiction with one another as they are simply measuring different types of behavior. Many of the studies that found lower rates of abuse either expressly counted only incidents involving the use of physical force, or did so by implication by leaving the term "rape" undefined.

The Delaware study, for example, which provided the inmates surveyed with a definition of rape, described it as "oral or anal sex that is forced on somebody." Consensual sex, also defined, was specified to be "oral or anal sex that is agreed on before the act takes place." Yet, as described in Chapter VI of this report, a narrow focus on incidents involving the actual use of force is likely to result in a serious underestimate of the prevalence of sexual abuse. Indeed, the authors of the Delaware study recognize this problem, stating that "the consensual sex reported by our respondents may instead be situations of sexual exploitation."(386) Nonetheless, their findings are expressed without any consideration of this important nuance: the study simply concludes that "the preponderance of [sexual contact in prison] is consensual sex rather than rape."(387)

Differing methodologies--inmate interviews vs. anonymous surveys, etc.--may also account for much of the inconsistency in the findings, yet there is another important factor as well. Human Rights Watch's research, which has been national in scale, has convinced us that there are significant differences in victimization rates among prison systems, and from prison to prison within a given jurisdiction. To some extent, these differences reflect variations in inmate populations. There are, for example, generally more violent inmates in maximum security facilities, and thus relatively more sexual abuse. But, as many inmates themselves have pointed out, an even more important factor is the level of official attention to or tolerance of the problem. "Where I am now," explained an Arizona prisoner, "the warden doesn't put up with it. When they notice someone being exploited, the situation is investigated and more than likely the victimizer is punished."(388) This prisoner compared the relative calm of his present facility to the "out of control" environment of other facilities where he had been housed. Unfortunately, from what Human Rights Watch has seen, the staff vigilance found at this prisoner's facility is far too rare.

The question of how prison officials handle the problem of prisoner-on-prisoner sexual abuse--whether they recognize it, what steps they take to prevent it, and how they respond to incidents of it--is a crucial one. The following chapter will explain the deficiencies of the authorities' approach to the problem in detail, but the short answer is that in every area they do far too little.

348. To date, the U.S. Bureau of Justice statistics has not included prisoner-on-prisoner rape or other sexual abuse in its annual crime surveys.

349. Carl Weiss and David James Friar, Terror in the Prisons: Homosexual Rape and Why Society Condones It (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1974), p. 61.

350. See Lockwood, "Issues in Prison Sexual Violence," p. 97 (calling prisoner-on-prisoner rape "a rare event," but noting that sexual harassment in prison affects "large numbers of men"); Robert W. Dumond, "Ignominious Victims: Effective Treatment of Male Sexual Assault in Prison," August 15, 1995, p. 2 (stating that "evidence suggests that [sexual assault in prison] may a staggering problem").

351. Letter to Human Rights Watch from Manuel D. Romero, deputy secretary of operations, New Mexico Corrections Department, July 9, 1997.

352. Letter to Human Rights Watch from Harold W. Clarke, director, Nebraska Department of Correctional Services, July 10, 1997.

353. For Florida, see letter to Human Rights Watch from Fred Schuknecht, inspector general, Florida Department of Corrections, July 30, 1997 (94 reported sexual batteries or assaults in 1995, 92 in 1996); letter to Human Rights Watch from Fred Schuknecht, inspector general, Florida Department of Corrections, July 8, 1998 (93 allegations of sexual battery reported in 1997); letter to Human Rights Watch from E.A. Sobach, chief of investigations, Florida Department of Corrections, December 8, 1999 (89 allegations of sexual battery in 1998, 91 in 1999 (through December 7)).

For Ohio, see letter to Human Rights Watch from Norm Hills, north region director, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, May 8, 1997 (one reported rape since January 1, 1997); letter to Human Rights Watch from Norm Hills, north region director, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, July 16, 1998 (two additional sexual assaults since May 1997); letter to Human Rights Watch from Rhonda Millhouse, administrative assistant, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, December 30, 1999 (fifty-five alleged sexual assaults in 1999, of which eight have been confirmed, the rest being deemed acts of consensual sex or fabrications).

For Texas, see letter to Human Rights Watch from Debby Miller, executive services, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, May 19, 1997 (average of 110 sexual assaults investigated annually since 1993, with four cases being criminally prosecuted); letter to Human Rights Watch from Debby Miller, executive services, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, June 29, 1998 (123 reported sexual assaults in 1997, and fifty-nine in the first five months of 1998); letter to Human Rights Watch from Darin Pacher, administrator, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, April 17, 2000 (enclosing table showing eighty-four alleged sexual assaults in 1994, 131 in 1995, eighty-four in 1996, eighty-seven in 1997, eighty-nine in 1998, 237 in 1999, and sixty-two in the first three months of 2000).

For the Federal Bureau of Prisons, see letter to Human Rights Watch from Renee Barley, FOIA adminstrator, Federal Bureau of Prisons, June 30, 1997 (forty-four alleged sexual assaults in 1996, six of which were confirmed); letter to Human Rights Watch from Elizabeth M. Edson, chief, FOIA/PA Section, Federal Bureau of Prisons, October 19, 1998 (sixty-six reported sexual assaults in 1997); letter to Human Rights Watch from Katherine A. Day, chief, FOIA/PA Section, Federal Bureau of Prisons, April 18, 2000 (stating that the FBOP does not maintain statistics on inmate-on-inmate rape).

354. Struckman-Johnson, "Sexual Coercion," p. 67. The survey had a 30 percent return rate, so it is possible that overall rates of victimization were lower than 22 percent. But for several reasons, including the fact that staff and inmate estimates of the incidence of these abuses correlated closely with the actual numbers found, the researchers believe that the 22 percent figure is reasonably accurate. Ibid., p. 74.

355. Ibid., p. 71.

356. See chapter II for a discussion of the numbers of prison inmates nationally. Stephen Donaldson, the late president of Stop Prisoner Rape, made a similar estimate in 1995 on the basis of previous academic studies. He concluded that 119,900 male prison inmates--as well as many thousands of jail inmates--had been anally raped. Stephen Donaldson, "Rape of Incarcerated Americans: A Preliminary Statistical Look," July 1995.

357. Letter to Human Rights Watch from R.B., Kansas, September 28, 1996.

358. Letter to Human Rights Watch from G.M., Ohio, June 27, 1997.

359. Letter to Human Rights Watch from S.K., Washington, February 18, 1997.

360. Even witnesses who inform on the perpetrators of rape are likely to suffer violent retaliation. See, for example, Gullatte v. Potts, 654 F. 2d 1007, 1009 (5th Cir. 1981) (inmate who witnessed rape of cellmate informed prison officials, and was later murdered by other prisoners in retaliation).

361. Letter to Human Rights Watch from J.D., Colorado, October 12, 1997.

362. Letter to Human Rights Watch from W.M., Texas, November 24, 1996.

363. Letter to Human Rights Watch, October 22, 1996.

364. Struckman-Johnson, "Sexual Coercion," p. 75; see also Peter L. Nacci and Thomas R. Kane, "The Incidence of Sex and Sexual Aggression in Federal Prisons," Federal Probation, vol. 47, no. 4 (1983), p. 31 (finding that only 32 percent of targets of sexual aggression had done something "official" to remedy the problem).

365. Helen Eigenberg, "Male Rape: An Empirical Examination of Correctional Officers' Attitudes Toward Rape in Prison," Prison Journal, vol. LXIX, no. 2, Fall-Winter 1989, p. 47.

366. Davis, "Sexual Assaults," p. 13.

367. Human Rights Watch sent an initial request for information to all corrections authorities on April 20, 1997. We sent an additional letter to corrections authorities on June 17, 1998, to request 1997 statistics. Finally we contacted such authorities again on November 16, 1999, to request 1998 data, and on January 19, 2000, to request 1999 data. Follow-up letters were sent and phone calls were made to those authorities who failed to respond to any of these letters. Where necessary, we also filed official requests for information under state freedom of information laws.

Four state corrections department--in Alabama, Louisiana, Nevada, and Utah--never responded to Human Rights Watch's queries, even though they were contacted on several occasions. For example, Human Rights Watch wrote to the Alabama Department of Corrections on April 20, 1997; June 26, 1997; September 8, 1997 (via fax); February 28, 1998; July 10, 1998 (official request for information under the Inspection and Copying of Records Act (ICRA), section 36-12-40 of the Alabama Code); November 16, 1999, and March 15, 2000 (official request under ICRA).

368. Letter to Human Rights Watch from Cora K. Lum, Deputy Director for Corrections, Hawaii Department of Public Safety, Honolulu, Hawaii, March 19, 1998.

369. Letter to Human Rights Watch from John Gifford, Information Officer, New Hampshire Department of Corrections, July 17, 1997. In a subsequent letter, state officials said that there were no recorded prisoner-on-prisoner rapes or sexual assaults in 1998 or 1999. Letter to Human Rights Watch from Mark L. Wefers, Chief, Internal Affairs, New Hampshire Department of Corrections, December 20, 1999. Similarly, in the state of Alaska (where, it should be recognized, there is a very small prison population), officials responded: "Our Department has not seen a sexual assault between prisoners in over 10 years. We, luckily, have no need to keep statistics, as this has not been a problem." Letter to Human Rights Watch from Denise Reynolds, Deputy Director of Institutions, Alaska Department of Corrections, December 15, 1999. Washington state officials told us that they do not maintain such statistics on inmate-on-inmate sexual assault, "as this type of assault seldom occurs within our institutions." Letter to Human Rights Watch from Tom Rolfs, Director, Division of Prisons, Washington Department of Corrections, May 7, 1997.

370. Letter to Human Rights Watch from Steve Crawford, Facility Captain, Institution Services Unit, California Department of Corrections, Sacramento, California, June 18, 1997; Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Art Chung, Data Analysis Unit, Information Services Branch, California Department of Corrections, Sacramento, California, June 24, 1998.

371. See letters cited above.

372. The Oregon corrections authorities, to be precise, stated that they had received eleven reports of inmate-on-inmate rape or sexual abuse between 1995 and August 1997, which would average out to three to four cases per year. Letter to Human Rights Watch from David S. Cook, Director, Oregon Department of Corrections, August 18, 1997.

373. The Arizona numbers averaged out to more than ten a year, but in 1999 only nine sexual assaults were recorded (compared to nineteen in 1998 and thirteen in 1997). Letter to Human Rights Watch from Richard G. Carlson, Deputy Director, Administration, Arizona Department of Corrections, March 9, 2000.

The Virginia corrections department provided Human Rights Watch with the following information: five of seventeen allegations of "nonconsensual sexual activity" in 1993 were "founded"; four of twelve allegations in 1994; six of eleven in 1995; nine of twenty-two in 1996; five of ten in 1997; seven of fourteen in 1998; and three of thirteen in 1999. Letter to Human Rights Watch from Ron Angelone, Director, Virginia Department of Corrections, May 27, 1997.

374. Illinois informed Human Rights Watch that 130 and 188 inmate-on-inmate sexual assault allegations were reported in 1998 and 1999, respectively, but pointed out that only eight of the 1998 cases had been substantiated, and only twelve of those from 1999 (with four still pending as of April 2000). It also stated that ninety-seven allegations were reported during the two year period before May 1997, only twelve of which had been substantiated. Letter to Human Rights Watch from Odie Washington, Director, Illinois Department of Corrections, May 6, 1997. The letter included the definition of sexual assault under Illinois state law: "any contact between the sex organ of one person and the sex organ, mouth or anus of another person, or any intrusion of any part of the body of one person or object into the sex organ or anus of another person by the use of force or threat of force."

375. Letter to Human Rights Watch from Rhonda Millhouse, Administrative Assistant 4, Office of Prisons, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, December 30, 1999.

376. Statistics provided in chart sent by Texas Department of Criminal Justice on April 17, 2000. Viewed another way, the numbers show 162 alleged sexual assaults per 100,000 prisoners in 1999.

377. Eigenberg, "Male Rape," p. 47 (the remainder were undecided).

378. Struckman-Johnson, "Sexual Coercion," pp. 70-71.

379. See Davis, "Sexual Assaults" (Philadephia); Lockwood, Prison Sexual Violence (New York); Wooden and Parker, Men Behind Bars (California); Nacci and Kane, "Sex and Sexual Aggression" (federal prisons); Richard Tewksbury, "Measures of Sexual Behavior in an Ohio Prison," Sociology and Social Research, vol. 74 (1989), p. 34; Christine A. Saum, Hilary L. Surratt, James A. Inciardi, and Rachael E. Bennett, "Sex in Prison: Exploring the Myths and Realities," The Prison Journal, vol. 75, no. 4 (1995) (Delaware); Struckman-Johnson, "Sexual Coercion" (Nebraska); Cindy Struckman-Johnson and David Struckman-Johnson, "Sexual Coercion Rates in Seven Midwestern Prison Facilities for Men," The Prison Journal, vol. 80, no. 4 (2000), p. 379 (four midwestern states).

380. Davis, "Sexual Assaults," p. 9.

381. Lockwood, Prison Sexual Violence, pp. 17-18. The author defined rape as being forced to participate in oral or anal sex. Ibid., p. 36.

382. Wooden and Parker, Men Behind Bars, p. 227.

383. Tewksbury, "Measures of Sexual Behavior," p. 36; Saum et al., "Sex in Prison," p. 427.

384. Struckman-Johson, "Sexual Coercion Rates," pp. 383, 385.

385. The studies cited are not exhaustive of the research on prisoner-on-prisoner sexual abuse, but in general represent the most comprehensive and direct examinations of the topic. Several other studies have been conducted; their findings are equally inconsistent. For example, a study of state prisons in North Carolina, based on the records of disciplinary hearings and interviews with prison superintendents, found an extremely low rate of sexual assault, but its methodology is obviously vulnerable to criticism. Dan A. Fuller and Thomas Orsagh, "Violence and Victimization within a State Prison System," Criminal Justice Review, vol. 2 (1977), p. 35. A study of an unnamed maximum security prison in an Eastern state, in contrast, concluded that there were at least forty sexual assaults per year in the facility, which had a daily population of some 200 inmates. The data on assaults in that study, however, came from a small number of inmates, as well as from a review of prison records and conversations with staff and other prisoners. Leo Carroll, "Humanitarian Reform and Biracial Sexual Assault in a Maximum Security Prison," Urban Life, vol. 5, no. 4 (1977), p. 417.

386. Saum et al., "Sex in Prison," p. 421.

387. Ibid., p. 427.

388. Letter to Human Rights Watch from A.C., Arizona, March 23, 1997.

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