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Strategies to Prevent Prison Rape by Changing the Correctional Culture

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2008
16 pages
Publication Series
Based on interviews with prison officials in 45 States, this report presents promising initiatives and practices for addressing sexual violence in prisons identified in 11 States.
In order to address sexual violence in State prisons and eventually eliminate it, State correctional administers offered four recommendations. First, develop a department-wide strategy and specific policies and programs for inmate education and victim services as well as the investigation, prosecution, and accurate documentation of sexual assaults. Second, cultivate management, staff, and inmates for their support of the strategy. Third, develop staff inservice training programs that specifically address in-prison rape, with attention to ensuring that staff will be protected from false allegations. Fourth, develop inmate education programs that explain prison policies and practices regarding rape, inmate rights, and how to avoid sexual assault. In implementing these recommendations, resistance of agency staff, corrections officers, and inmates to changing prison culture was cited as the greatest challenge. One commonly cited barrier to change was the unwillingness of agency staff and corrections officers to change their attitudes and behaviors. Some line staff and supervisors, for example, were not comfortable with the idea that a prisoner could also be a victim. Some administrators indicated that staff members resisted change out of fear of inmates’ false accusations of rape by staff once inmates were encouraged to report information about rapes. On the other hand, administrators in some States reported that the greater challenge was developing inmates’ confidence that prison management personnel would take seriously rape reports by taking swift action to deal with reported incidents. Suggestions for addressing these barriers to change are strong leadership at the highest management levels, the modeling of positive behaviors, inservice staff training, and educating inmates about prison policies and practices toward rape. 2 exhibits and 2 notes

Date Published: October 1, 2008