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Department of Justice’s Efforts to Prevent Staff Sexual Abuse of Federal Inmates
Michael Gulledge (ed)
This review examined the efforts of the Dept. of Justice (DOJ) to deter the sexual abuse of fed. prisoners by fed. correctional and law enforcement personnel. It is a crime for a prison employee to engage in any sexual contact or sexual relations with a fed. prisoner. Under the fed. criminal code, consent by a prisoner is never a legal defense because of the inherently unequal positions of prisoners and correctional and law enforcement staff who control many aspects of prisoners’ lives. Apart from criminal charges, fed. corrections staff may be subject to administrative discipline for engaging in sexual misconduct that is not criminal but violates employee conduct policies, such as using indecent language or gestures, or surveilling prisoners for the purpose of sexual gratification. Staff sexual abuse of prisoners has severe consequences for victims, undermines the safety and security of prisons, and in some cases leads to other crimes. Prisoners who are victims of staff sexual abuse may suffer physical pain, fear, humiliation, degradation, and desperation, and this harm can last beyond the victims’ incarceration. Moreover, because female prisoners in particular often have histories of being sexually abused, they are even more traumatized by further abuse inflicted by correctional staff while in custody. In addition to traumatizing prisoners, fed. personnel may also neglect their professional duties and subvert their prison’s security procedures in order to engage in and conceal their prohibited sexual relationships with prisoners. Fed. personnel who are sexually involved with prisoners can be subject to extortion demands and may be more easily pressured to violate other prison rules and fed. laws. Compromised personnel who have been found to have sexually abused prisoners also have been found to have provided contraband to prisoners, accepted bribes, lied to fed. investigators, and committed other serious crimes as a result of their sexual involvement with fed. prisoners. Figures.
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