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No Escape: Male Rape in U.S. Prisons

NCJ Number
Joanne Mariner
Date Published
394 pages
Based on research conducted from 1996 to 1999, this report documents the scope and impact of male prisoner-on-prisoner sexual abuse in U.S. prisons and critiques the response of prison administrators to the problem.
This report is based primarily on information collected from over 200 inmates in prisons in 37 States. The majority of these inmates had been raped or otherwise sexually abused while in prison, and they provided firsthand accounts of the problem. Numerous inmates who were not sexually abused also provided their views on the problem, including information about sexual assaults they had witnessed. A small number of inmates who had participated in rape also contributed their perspectives. The prisoners who collaborated in this study were largely self-selected and did not constitute a random sampling. Valuable information was also obtained from prison officials, prison experts, lawyers who represent prisoners, prisoners rights organizations, and prisoners' relatives. Human Rights Watch also conducted an extensive review of the case law relevant to prison rape in the United States. This report documents male prisoner-on-prisoner sexual abuse as a major problem in U.S. prisons, accompanied by psychological and physical victimization effects that make prison life cruel and inhumane for victims of such abuse. The critique of the general prison response to this problem characterizes it as "deliberate indifference." There is a failure to recognize and address the problem, a lack of prisoner orientation that could help prevent the problem, improper classification and negligent double-celling, understaffing and failure to adopt prevention measures, inadequate response to complaints of rape, failure to prosecute incidents, and a failure of mechanisms of legal redress. Recommendations are outlined for Federal and State governments, urging them to step up their efforts to address this gross violation of human dignity. Case histories, appended excerpts from prisoners' letters and miscellaneous documents, and chapter notes