U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Report on Sexual Victimization in Prisons and Jails

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2012
97 pages
This report presents the findings of the Review Panel on Prison Rape (Panel) based on its hearings held in the spring and fall of 2011 and the national survey conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics in August 2010 ("Sexual Victimization in Prisons and Jails, Reported by Inmates, 2008-09").
Hearings on prisons and jail were held separately. Based on the prison hearings, the Panel identified seven common themes that require action. First, it is important to know the common characteristics of inmates who are vulnerable to sexual abuse. Second, it is important to know common differences between male and female facilities. Third, it is important to know the importance of professional language in establishing a safe environment. Fourth, it is important to recognize the vulnerability of non-heterosexual inmates and their need for proper treatment. Fifth, there is a need to strengthen the integrity of the entire complaint process. Sixth, effective victim services must be provided. Seventh, staff must be equipped to respond effectively to inmate sexual victimization. Regarding sexual victimization in prisons, the Panel recommends further study on why homosexuality and prior victimization are significant indicators of inmate victims of sexual abuse, as well as identification of the distinctive needs of female facilities in preventing sexual victimization. Based on the hearings on sexual victimization in jails, the Panel identified the following common themes: acknowledging the importance of facility design; appreciating the value of outside oversight; noting the reluctance to prosecute sexual victimization cases that involve inmates; recognizing the resource challenges that jails face; and employing well-trained professional staff. The panel recommended additional study on six topics related to sexual victimization in jails. The report lists the prison and jail personnel invited to appear at the hearings. Prisons and jails with low and high incidences of sexual victimization are profiled. Appended supplementary material

Date Published: April 1, 2012