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Sexual Victimization in Prisons: Moving Toward Elimination

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According to a report released in December of 2007 by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, an estimated 60,500 state and federal prisoners reported one or more incidents of sexual victimization within the year.  Nationwide, 2.1 percent of inmates reported an incident involving another inmate, and 2.9 percent reported an incident involving facility staff members.

The results come from research mandated by the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), which establishes a zero-tolerance standard for the incidence of rape in U.S. prisons.

Previously only a few, small research studies investigated sexual violence in correctional institutions. Further, as the rate of women's imprisonment has increased over the past 20 years, so has the interest in women's prison research - the studies conducted highlight a culture of sex and adverse effects of victimization that are unique to female correctional settings, and must be considered.

This expert chat, sponsored by the Harvard Kennedy School's Government Innovators Network and the National Institute of Justice, featured a panel of experts who discussed the state of PREA research - what data is available and what's yet to come - and examined how we will move from better understanding to reliable prevention and eventual elimination.

Date Created: January 1, 2014