Laws against sexual abuse of federal inmates by prison employees need to be strengthened, says the U.S. Justice Department’s inspector general, according to the Arizona Republic. “Misdemeanor penalties do not adequately punish prison employees who commit this crime,” Glenn Fine told a commission on safety and abuse in prisons. He said many federal prosecutors are simply “not interested” in prosecuting sexual-abuse cases involving federal inmates, regardless of the strength of the evidence, because current law does not constitute many of these crimes as felonies. Between Oct. 1, 2002, and Sept. 30, 2004, his office received 658 complaints of inappropriate relationships or sexual abuse of inmates at the federal Bureau of Prisons’ 114 correctional institutions.
There also were 508 complaints of unnecessary force or physical abuse, 331 allegations of threatening behavior or verbal abuse, and 273 allegations of civil rights or civil liberties violations. Of the total 1,770 abuse allegations, 194 were investigated by Fine’s office. Of those, 36 resulted in convictions; others resulted in administrative action or were not substantiated.