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Consensual Homosexual Activity in Male Prisons

NCJ Number
Corrections Compendium Volume: 26 Issue: 1 Dated: January 2001 Pages: 1-4
Christopher Hensley
Susan L. Clayton
Date Published
January 2001
4 pages
This article presents the methodology and findings of a study that explored the amount of consensual homosexual activity in three Oklahoma male prisons.
From August 1998 to May 1999, qualitative face-to-face interviews were conducted with 174 male inmates at a minimum-security (n=52), a medium-security (n=61), and a maximum-security (n=61), prison. Inmates were asked to characterize their sexual orientation at the time of the interview. More than 78 percent identified themselves as heterosexual, and 8 percent identified themselves as homosexual; slightly more than 13 percent identified themselves as bisexual. The maximum-security unit had more self-identified homosexuals and bisexuals than the other two institutions. Inmates were also asked whether they had engaged in any of the following consensual activities with another male prior to incarceration: kissed someone of the same sex, rubbed a body part against someone of the same sex or allowed someone of the same sex to rub a body part against them in a sexual manner, touched the sex organs of a male or allowed a male to touch their sex organs, had oral sex (either giving or receiving) with someone of the same sex, and/or had anal intercourse (either giving or receiving) with someone of the same sex. Inmates were also asked whether they had engaged in these activities during incarceration. The study did not find an elevated rate of consensual homosexual activity by the inmates compared to the amount in which they engaged prior to incarceration. One-fourth of the prison sample indicated they had engaged in some form of consensual homosexual activity while incarcerated; 18 percent had engaged in homosexual activity prior to incarceration. The in-prison homosexual activity found in this study was not as high as that reported by other studies. Possible reasons for this are discussed, and implications for prison policy and future research are addressed. 3 tables and 11 references