Over 1 million women are currently imprisoned or under the control of the US criminal justice system.
According to the ACLU, “women are the fastest growing segment of the incarcerated population increasing at nearly double the rate of men since 1985.”
And as this population continues to grow, so does the number of incarcerated women who become victims of sexual assault.
While these statistics may paint a bleak picture of the US criminal justice system, there have been great improvements to New York Law that can help survivors and work toward eliminating prison sexual abuse.
Prison sexual abuse survivors in New York can now take legal action for any sexual abuse that occurred at any point in their adult life.
What percentage of prisoners are abused?
It is difficult to truly know how many prisoners are abused, however some organizations have produced estimates.
“According to Human Rights Watch at least 15 percent of incarcerated females have been the victims of prison sexual assault. These assaults occur at the hands of prison staff and other inmates” (Piecora, Jurist).
Additionally, Human Rights Watch estimates that “at least half of all female prisoners have experienced some form of sexual abuse prior to incarceration.” In some places, the statistics are even worse. The ACLU estimates that 92% of all women in California prisons had been “battered and abused” in their lifetimes.
Women consist of only 7% of the total prison population, but account for 46% of sexual abuse victims.
In these instances, women also account for 22% of all victims of inmate-on-inmate sexual victimization, and 33% of all victims of staff-on-inmate sexual victimization.
Who are the Perpetrators?
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 68.6% of substantiated staff sexual misconduct in American prisons came from correctional officers.
More than a third of victimization in the study it conducted occurred in a program service area, like a kitchen, storage area, or commissary.
Inmates of private prisons are half as likely to say they have been sexually victimized by other inmates as those who were in public prisons; however, they are about twice as likely to report sexual victimization by staff.
When reported, staff sexual victimization was typically reported by the victim or another inmate, not by a correctional officer or other staff.