In Texas, sexual contact between staff and inmates is a felony, punishable by up to two years in prison. Yet it is rare for prison staff there to be imprisoned for sexual abuse, reports the Marshall Project. Since 2000, the state prison system's inspector general has referred nearly 400 cases of staff sex crimes against inmates to prosecutors. Prosecutors refused to pursue almost half of those cases. Of 126 prison workers, mostly correctional officers, convicted of sexual misconduct or assault, just nine were sentenced to serve time behind bars.
Most of the rest were fined between $200 and $4,000 and were ordered to serve a few years on a type of probation called deferred adjudication, which results in a clean criminal record if conditions are met. At the state’s Clements Unit, more prisoners reported being forced, coerced or pressured into sexual contact with staff than in any other male prison in the U.S., said a 2013 federal survey. Texas has had more facilities deemed “high rate” for sexual abuse than any other state, leading the Dallas Observer to declare Texas the “prison rape capital of the U.S.” Nationwide, prison staff are the accused perpetrators in half of all reports of sexual abuse in prisons and jails.