A 26-year-old burglar from a small town Oregon was lured into a secluded stairway of the Oregon State Penitentiary and raped by another inmate, says The Oregonian. At least 4 percent of prison inmates reported in a national survey that they had been sexually assaulted in the previous year. In Oregon, that equates to more than 800 prisoners. What happened after the Oregon attack stunned officials: The man reported the rape and agreed to testify. Prosecutors believe he was naive, not knowing that inmates who snitch on other inmates risk being savagely beaten or raped again.
Corrections officials are struggling to reverse decades of indifference toward rape behind bars and persuade more victims to report attacks. They are under pressure from a new federal law, the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003, which requires jails and prisons to take steps to reduce sexual assaults or face loss of federal funding starting next year. Each new arrival to the Oregon Department of Corrections is shown a 10-minute video providing tips on how to avoid falling prey and urging inmates to report attacks. Prison officers have been trained to notice signs that an inmate has been attacked. Staff are documenting each reported sexual assault in hopes of preventing future ones.