The National Prison Rape Elimination Commission recently came out with a report that found inmates reported being sexually abused by their captors more than other inmates.
More prisoners reported abuse by staff than abuse by other prisoners: 2.9 percent of respondents compared with about 2 percent. (Some prisoners reported abuse by other inmates and staff.)
It also found that “Many victims cannot safely and easily report sexual abuse, and those who speak out often do so to no avail.”
Air Force veteran Tom Cahill, who was arrested and detained for just a single night in a San Antonio jail, recalled the lasting effects of being gang-raped and beaten by other inmates. "I’ve been hospitalized more times than I can count and I didn’t pay for those hospitalizations, the tax payers paid. My career as a journalist and photographer was completely derailed. . . . For the past two decades, I’ve received a non-service connected security pension from the Veteran’s Administration at the cost of about $200,000 in connection with the only major trauma I’ve ever suffered, the rape."
As someone who has received letters from inmates about abuse in prison, expressing private pain as well as frustration at systemic problems, I have been interested in this topic for a long time. When I was working in Nashville, I wrote a story about the question of giving inmates access to condoms since the prevalence of HIV and other diseases are higher in prisons than the general population — and given the fact that 95 percent of inmates will eventually return to the community. The state said that to allow condoms would be to condone sexual acts, which are banned by prison policy. I’m not sure what the rules are like here.