Exactly who is getting raped in Texas prisons and why is a whodunit that has state and federal officials looking somewhat sideways at each other, reports the Houston Chronicle. In a hearing that wrapped up in Houston on Friday, a Justice Department panel questioned wardens, guards, and other prison officials over findings that Texas has among the nation’s most dangerous prisons for the sexually vulnerable. Victims tend to be younger, of slighter build and first-time offenders.
A recent federally mandated survey of many prisons asked inmates to anonymously answer questions about rape. Results suggested Texas prisoners were more likely to be raped than those in other states and far exceeded the number of claims prisoners filed in person with prison authorities. A Texas official said the survey “is not matching up with our data.” Prison officers said while rape does occur, it is rare, and more rarely seen or heard. John Moriarty, inspector general for the prison system, oversees criminal investigations, including rapes. He said his team faces the challenges of operating in a world of convicts, including some who falsely claim they’ve been sexually assaulted to reap the benefits afforded victims, such as being put in protected custody or transferred to a new cell.