Half of all sexual impropriety reported in U.S. prisons and jails last year was perpetrated by correctional staff, not prisoners, reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch. One third of the cases involved male inmates and two thirds involved female staff, according to a study by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics.
It is unclear how widespread the problem is. The cases in the study involved only 344 incidents — and a tiny fraction of the 2 million men and 200,000 women prisoners in the United States. But experts believe such incidents are underreported, and the bureau study notes that many allegations remain under investigation. “I’m looking for somebody who’s a leader in one of these agencies to come out strong and say this is absolutely intolerable . . . and the silence is deafening,” said Brenda V. Smith, a professor at American University’s Washington College of Law and a member of the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission.