How common is prison rape?

Is it a near certainty like I’ve been led to believe? Is prison life really that dire?

I was pondering asking the exact same question. It seems that nearly everybody in the US is convinced that getting raped is part of the usual prison “way of life”. Each time some hateful crime has been commited, for instance, there are some posters rejoicing at the prospect of the culprit being raped once jailed.

This belief is non-existent in France, for instance? It doesn’t mean that there aren’t rapes or coerced sex in french jails, but it’s not something random people would think about when considering life in prisons. I somehow doubt that life in american prisons would be that different from life in french prisons, nor I’m inclined to believe that people in charge of prisons would tolerate a widespread “custom” of raping other inmates.

So, I normally tend to assume that this popular belief is mistaken and don’t pay much attention. But with several threads currently refering to this, I too who would to know the “straight dope”. Especially since there are several people working in jails in this board, so they should be able to answer this question.
By the way, I notice that people mentionning it quite always rejoice at this prospect. I never see one thread with some poster trying to bring the attention of fellow dopers about the awful conditions in american prisons, with rapes occuring all the time, etc… This too let me think that, though there most probably are rapes in prisons, the belief that it’s widespread is possibly related to the “feel good” factor of the prospect of evil criminals harshly punished by being raped.

Surely it can’t be as common as some percieve it to be? But if it is their is some serious prison reform needed.

Doper Qadgop is a prison doctor. He said in another thread that rapes in prison are fairly rare. Consentual sex is apparantly pretty common, however, and it might be coerced.

It seems to me that the idea of widespread prison rape is a mostly a fantasy for people who don’t think that prison is sufficient punishment.

In today’s other prison rape thread I linked to this previous thread where a Doper prison guard discusses such things.

I’m wondering if perhaps it’s more common in maximum security federal prisons than in state pens and more minimum security fascilities. It seems that men, and well, even women for that matter, that are the truest dregs of our society serving 25 years to life for horrendous crimes would be more likely to engage in violent activities behind bars than your white collar offenders. These are just my assumptions of course.
I wonder if there are any statitistics available. Although that may be a difficult thing to keep track of since prisoners aren’t likely to report rape.
Hmm. I do agree with Calm Kiwi that prison reform is needed. Rape should not some “given” in the punishment/reform process. Unless of course the offender is a child molester IMHO

That is what I was thinking. Prison IS the punishment. No need for rape as an extra.

(I also meant there not their D) )

I think it’s pretty sick when someone revels in the idea of a criminal being raped in prison. I also wonder why it never occurs to them that this criminal could be the one who gets to do the raping. If what they imagine is true then some people in prison get to spend their time there committing further crime and there’s nothing good about that.

I remember reading an interview with Ed Bunker, the author who spent a lot of time in prisons, and he said it happens but it is not as common as it is made out to be. I can’t find the magazine, but he says the same thing in this interview here.

I’ve always wondered how common it is for men to rape each other outside prison. A couple of times, male friends have told me about times they were in fear of it, especially as teens.

That thread has pretty good information.

My husband also works in corrections. He was the Investigator for a couple of years, during which he had no complaints of violent rape, but did have three complaints of intimidation rape. (This, out of a population of 2,500 inmates.)

Some relevant figures and summaries include:

From Legal Affairs:

From Human Rights Watch:

From Stop Prison Rape:

A few years ago, Human Rights Watch produced a comprehensive report entitled No Escape: Male Rape in U.S. Prisons, which not only gives some broad overviews and statistics, but outlines the various scenarios under which rape occurs, and gives case histories that often include oral testimony by the victims. It’s interesting—if rather depressing—reading.

Rape is very rare in UK jails, and consensual sex is not very common in most jails, with the execption of some of the higher security units.

Those units would be usually very long term prisoners, who are generally considered to be a high security rating because of the length of jail term and the type of offence.

So you might see say serious sexual offenders engage in consensual sex, but probably not serious organised criminals.

Its not so cut and dried though, but in the jaisl where consensual sex does take place, rape is not attractive in the sense that the victim is likely to be a serious offender themselves and in all probability is prepared to to almost anything to take revenge.
You do not have to be an eight foot tall gorilla to cause serious or fatal injuries, and makeshift weapons are soon found, for example one attempted murder was effected on Peter Sutcliffe using felt tip pens inot the eyes(lots of kudos for killing this person among some prisoners)
He survived but his birdwatching days may well have been somewhat diminished.
What this shows is that anyone can retaliate in a deadly fashion, and rape isnt worth the risk.

The medium high risks dont have much rape at all, there may be a little self prostitution, but even this is rare.

From what I gather coerced rape is more common. Violent rape is more likely to get the rapist in trouble while coerced rape is harder to prove and I guess the victim less likely to go to authorities over.

So I guess it depends on how you define rape. If you define it as the rapist trying to maintain a low profile by using psychological intimidation instead of physical intimidation then it is still relatively common.

But it was also my understanding that prisons already had tons of homosexuals in them so why bother turning out a few more?

What makes you think this? Do you have any statistics on the subject?

Tons of homosexuals. Huh?

“Your understanding?”

Any facts to back that up?

Saturday’s NYT (reg. req) had an article on this.

Ex-Inmate’s Suit Offers View Into Sexual Slavery in Prisons.

"The phenomenon of sexual slavery in prison has only recently emerged from the shadows. Prison rape, in general, has received sporadic notice over the years and sustained attention more recently, with the passage last year of a federal law that aims to eliminate it. But there has never been a comprehensive study of incarcerated gay men subjected to sexual abuse.

Discussing any form of prison rape is difficult. It makes many people uncomfortable. Some find it amusing.

“It has been the subject of mockery and almost sadistic glee,” said Margaret Winter, associate director of the National Prison Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. “But Roderick is a human being who doesn’t deserve this, not in a civilized society.”

The civil liberties union represents Mr. Johnson in his lawsuit, which will go to trial next summer."

Note that the article implies that homosexuals are rare in prisons.

“Hey Peter man, watch your cornhole, bud.”