We often hear jokes in the mainstream media about prison rape. But as incarcerated individuals who become victims of sexual assault can attest to, being attacked is a traumatizing experience.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics conducted surveys of former prisons. Their findings are disturbing. As reported by a recent CNN article:
“Nearly one of every 10 state prisoners is sexually victimized during confinement, according to a Justice Department study released Thursday.”
I am surprised that this number isn’t slightly higher. We know that victims of sexual assault are prone to shame and so these figures could be underreported. The wounds are often physical as described below.
“Among all victims of inmate-on-inmate sexual violence, a quarter said they had been physically held down or restrained, and a quarter had been physically harmed or injured,” the report said. About 29% of the victims reported bruises, black eyes, sprains, cuts and scratches, but 23% reported more serious injuries, including stab wounds, internal injuries, and broken bones.”
But these statistics don’t speak about the emotional and psychological toll of such abuse. Prisons and jails are traumatizing in of themselves so one could only imagine what the impact of being assaulted while incarcerated can have on an individual’s psyche and future emotional well-being.
This particularly problematic because the violence perpetrated against incarcerated individuals is happening to tons of people who are prisons or jails due to non-violent crimes. As the Washington Post states “…when it comes to preventing repeat offenses by nonviolent criminals — who make up about half of the incarcerated population.” I find this disturbing. We lock-up non-violent offenders in places where they then have violence happen to them. Now that is the true crime.
photo of Sun in Orange Sky Setting over Prison Yard / Shutterstock