Prison rape

My lawyer friend Adam is too chicken to post this question himself, but for some reason he wants to know how much rape actually occurs in prison (my guess would be that he’s running a cost/benefit analysis on starting a life of crime). I assume he’s talking about male prisons in the United States. Are there any reliable stats or sources on this? I’m not even sure how you would measure this. Number of rapes per annum? Percent of inmates who have been raped? I’m not trying to make light of this topic, but I’m not even sure how to ask the question.


First of all, ever hear Chris Rock’s bit on “tossed salad”? If not, find a CD of his HBO special.

Are you talking about strictly non-consensual sex? Or would you include sex as a bargaining ploy (i.e., for cigarettes)? I’d think that the commonly-held view that all sex in prison is rape is farfetched to say the least.

Have no idea where to look for stats on prison rape. Any stats would probably not be very accurate as I expect this crime goes unreported most of the time.

empirical data will be difficult to come by.
according to this Dept. of Justice doesnt’ count crimes that happen behind the wall. Plus, of course, the incident has to be reported, something that you really can’t expect to routinely happen inside prison walls.

Amnesty International sites prison rape as one of it’s human rights concerns for the United States.

and, here’s a little editorial too

Here is a study that reports only half the states in the US report rape statistics. here

Excuse my grammar, I lack sleep.

Does that mean that prison rape is only a problem in the U.S.?

of course not. check out the rest of the Amnesty International site. They have a specific list of concerns for the US, among them the lack of response on the prison rape issue, the death penalty (at all) death penalty imposed on children and the mentally ill etc.

(my specific statement was that prison rape was one of the listed concerns for the US, does not imply anything or lack of anything for any other nation)

Stop Prisoner Rape ( is an advocacy organization with a wealth of information.

wring, the page to which you provide a link is at the “Human Rights Watch” website, not Amnesty International.

Of course, Amnesty International is also concerned with this:

Amnesty International: USA Campaign - Rights For All
Reports, briefings and focus
Physical and sexual violence are endemic in many prisons and jails

This issue in the USA seems to be mainly fodder for late-night TV humour and teen-age film comedies, and I don’t see a lot of outrage in the general public over prison rape, with many people seeming to have the attitude “if you’re in prison, you deserve to get raped.” Which might explain why statistics are hard to come by - who really thinks it’s a problem?

Channeling Ed McMahon (and don’t think that’s an easy thing) “you are correct sir!”

mea culpa, I stand corrected on the source’s name.

I agree that the folks in general seem to think it’s one of those ‘prices you pay’ when you commit a crime, and therefore nothing to be concerned about.

Of course, the reality is that nearly all of these men who are brutally raped in prison as a part of the ‘you shoulda thought about that before’ program, will be out again some day. Do you suppose that rape is an effective rehabilitation tactic?

[Blatant Hijack]
…we don’t need prayer in schools…we need the tossed salad man!

“Jimmy, you got a D in Geometry…you know what that means…”

“No! No, please, not the tossed salad man!”
[/Blatant Hijack]

I think it’s a problem. And I’m usually pretty sickened when it comes up in a humorous context. I think it certainly qualifies as cruel and unusual punishment, because it’s well known that it’s to be expected in a US prison. By not doing anything about it, we’re essentially sentencing many people to be repeatedly raped. ha ha I can’t stop laughing.

It’s true that prisoners don’t incite a wealth of sympathy that makes people take time out of their daily lives and actually do something. Still, it ain’t right, and if the prisons needed more money for tighter supervision, I don’t think I would have a problem paying more taxes for it.

aubries, I don’t have any statistics to share (the links provided do a good job showing at least some of the problem), but I would recommend that if your friend is doing a c/b a of starting a life of crime, he’d best look into crimes that don’t involve either women or especially children as victims. My stepbrother (not the crackhead I mentioned earlier in an IMHO thread - the other one) went to prison for 8 or so years for molesting his stepdaughter, and while he’s short on specifics, he has lead us to believe that he did not have an easy time of it from the other inmates. The husband of my mom’s former co-worker also molested both his stepdaughters and his own very young son, and he apparently had a very tough time when he first arrived in prison. Horrible as it is, vigilante justice prevails in prisons and these guys “get what they deserve”.

For your friend, I’d recommend possession with intent to sell, car theft, or possibly littering. But not all three - three strkes, you’re out, you know.

Man, my ass hurts just reading this thread!

Oh course it’s a problem. I would venture to assume that most don’t go reported. I don’t see anything changing anytime soon to help out these prisoners.

(Who’d want to give tax money for improved services and protection for inmates when many believe they are already spoiled?)

I heard you’ve gotta kick someone’s ass the first night to prove yourself or else you’ll be Bubba’s bitch in no time.

Anytime you put that many men together in prison, things are gonna happen because sexual urges don’t go away… the same thing goes for women too… I wonder how many female rapes go on as well.

I actually think that it’s cruel and unusual punishment to keep men and women away from each other indefinetely… that’s the very definition IMHO of psychological punishment.
Maybe they could have a prisoner’s ball or something… that gets the imagination going, eh?

And aubries, tell your lawyer buddy not to do anything that’ll land him in “federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison”.

Acco. there were cites already posted with information about female prisoners and rape. (suggestion is that in the case of the female prisoners, there is more to fear from the guards personally than from other inmates). please see the incorrectly labled “amnesty international” (which was really ‘human rights watch’ which I posted, as well as the real Amnesty International site posted by Arnold Winklereid

I must also protest against this statement:

The fact that some one has sexual urges neither requires nor condones committing a rape. While it may be true that same sex groupings of normally hetereosexual individuals will prompt some (at least temporary) re-defining of one’s acceptable sexual outlets, rape itself is not condonable.

I agree that prison rape would be difficult to measure, but it does seem a little ULish - one of those things that “everyone knows” happens.

What I wonder is - are the prisoners truly unmonitored enough for rapes to occur? For example, are all the men sent into the showers in groups, and then left unwatched?
Perhaps prison rapes require complicity on the part of the guards.

As far as crimes against women & children go, I heard from a former inmate in a New England prison that such criminals are known as “skinners,” and that they are seriously abused by the other prisoners. I don’t know if that includes rape though.

I have also heard (secondhand) that Trenton State Prison in New Jersey has a separate wing for gay prisoners, to protect them.


Don’t believe everything you see on TV. Prisons are large places, and have differing levels of security. While care is extended to have supervision at all times, the issue generally is on containment ie, insuring that they don’t escape. Complicity on the part of guards can happen of course, but isn’t necessary.


Don’t know specific, however in the state of MI, on the Basic Information Report, including basic data on date of birth, place of birth, crime committed etc, there’s a few little boxes markable by yes/no “drug abuse” “alcohol abuse” “history of mental illness” and “known homosexual”. Of course, in all the years I’ve seen them (over 20), I’ve only seen that box checked off once or twice, and trust me, I didn’t necessarily believe the accuracy of that one.