A disputed study has concluded that rape and sexual assault behind bars may be rampant in movies and books but are rare in real life, reports USA Today. When inmates have sex, it is usually by choice, and often as a way to win protection or privileges, said Mark Fleisher, a cultural anthropologist at Case Western Reserve University. He said inmates who cry rape are usually lying and looking for a transfer, money or publicity. “Inmates say it may happen, but the conditions under which it happens are rare,” Fleisher said. “It is unlikely all the stars are going to align properly for this to happen, particularly in prisons today. You’re going to get caught.”
The two-year study, commissioned by the U.S. Justice Department for $939,233, has come under attack from other experts. The department has not endorsed the study, saying Fleisher has yet to turn over his data for closer examination. “To take the position that it’s not a problem and prisons are safe places is asinine,” said Reggie Walton, a federal judge and chairman of the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission, set up under a 2003 federal law. He said Fleisher’s conclusions are “totally inconsistent” with what he has learned during 30 years in the criminal justice system. Fleisher said he spent more than 700 hours interviewing 564 randomly chosen inmates at dozens of institutions across the country. He said he never met anyone who claimed to be a victim of sexual violence. Justice Department spokeswoman Catherine Sanders said the report is being peer-reviewed and is not considered finished. Fleisher co-wrote an article about it in the American Society of Criminology’s newsletter.