Washington state prison officials, responding to allegations that there is a culture of sexual assault at the Washington Correctional Center for Women in Purdy, have pledged to improve rape investigations, reports the Seattle Times. Since 2003, the prison has investigated at least 41 allegations of sexual misconduct against inmates. Those investigations, involving 32 correctional officers, have resulted in just a handful of prosecutions, including two cases on behalf of women who had the foresight to keep DNA evidence.
Eldon Vail, acting secretary of the Department of Corrections, said he did not know the scope of the current allegations until a lawsuit was filed in July on behalf of at least four inmates against four taff members. The lawsuit prompted the department to hire consultants to investigate, which led to three more staff being accused of misconduct. A Seattle Times review of more than 1,000 pages of investigation reports about staff-on-inmate sexual misconduct at the prison found that several investigations ended without action, even if a polygraph indicated the woman was telling the truth.