Sex Assaults In Kansas Prisons Likely Underreported


An inmate who reports a sexual assault gets labeled a “snitch,” is considered weak, and faces an increased likelihood of further assault. It's those fears that prevent inmates from reporting sexual abuse to officials, Cindy Struckman-Johnson, a psychologist and former member of the National Prison Rape Commission, told the Lawrence (KS.) Journal-World. “Underreporting is an incredible issue,” she said, adding that official reporting numbers are not “a reflection of reality.”

Numbers from confidential surveys indicate that Kansas inmates are sexually victimized far more often than is reported. Data obtained through a Kansas open records request show an average of one sexual misconduct report for every 100 Kansas inmates each year. That number jumps to more than six reports for every 100 juveniles in state detention every year. Surveys administered by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics found a 5 percent victimization rate in a 2007 survey of a Kansas prison, and about a 15 percent rate in a 2009 survey of Kansas' two juvenile facilities. Russ Jennings, commissioner of the Juvenile Justice Authority, said there are multiple reporting options for victims, such as confidential reporting hotlines and complaint drop boxes in living units. “There's really a wide-open door for reporting,” he said. “We would like for every incident or concern to be reported.”

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