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Legal Responses to Sexual Violence in Custody: State Criminal Laws Prohibiting Sexual Abuse of Individuals Under Custodial Supervision

NCJ Number
Brenda V. Smith J.D.; Jaime M. Yarussi M.S.
Date Published
70 pages
This report presents key issues in analyzing State criminal laws in response to sexual violence in custody.
Over the past decade, sexual abuse of individuals under custodial supervision has permeated the news. Many States have sought to address the problem by enacting criminal laws explicitly prohibiting staff sexual interactions with adults and youth under correctional supervision. These State criminal laws prohibiting the sexual abuse of people in custody are important tools in preventing staff sexual misconduct with persons under custodial supervision. Several key issues addressed when analyzing these State laws include: (1) staff sexual misconduct and its definition; (2) policy issues that stakeholders and policymakers should consider when evaluating State criminal laws prohibiting sexual abuse in custodial settings; and (4) recommendations for amending State laws to enhance effectiveness. This report provides a brief discussion of staff sexual misconduct, and examines a variety of definitions of staff sexual misconduct as defined by Federal law. It explores sexual misconduct as defined by State criminal laws in the United States, and provides examples of current State criminal laws on staff sexual misconduct discussing the legal implications of these laws. It concludes by reviewing the policy issues that stakeholders and policymakers should consider when evaluating a State criminal law on staff sexual misconduct and recommendations to strengthen State laws to enhance their effectiveness. Endnotes and tables