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Addressing Sexual Misconduct in Community Corrections

NCJ Number
Perspectives Volume: 27 Issue: 2 Dated: Spring 2003 Pages: 26-37
Mauren Buell; Elizabeth Layman; Susan W. McCampbell; Brenda V. Smith
Date Published
12 pages
This article addresses the issue of inappropriate relationships between offenders and employees of community-based corrections organizations.
Not only is sexual misconduct between offenders and employees of community-based corrections organizations a criminal offense in most States, it also compromises the ability of the employee to effectively protect the public safety. The article examines definitions of staff misconduct between offenders and then discusses the myths that abound about staff sexual misconduct. Some myths the article debunks include the myth that offenders consent to a sexual relationship with staff members and the myth that the misconduct always occurs between a male staff member and a female offender. Next, the article describes some of the national developments concerning this issue, such as the 1997 civil lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) against two States’ Departments of Corrections, in which the Departments were accused of failing to protect female inmates from sexual misconduct by staff members. Following is a description of State laws prohibiting sexual relationships between staff and offenders. The article outlines the critical issues concerning sexual misconduct facing community corrections organizations and provides suggestions for actions agency administrators can take to prevent it. Finally, the article outlines the basic principles involved in investigating allegations of staff sexual misconduct with offenders. Embedded within the article are textboxes containing descriptions of how one agency developed a policy against sexual misconduct, two legal notes regarding sexual misconduct, and the red flags that signal sexual misconduct may be occurring. Resources and end notes