Prisoner Sexual Assault
When convicted and sentenced to incarceration, prisoners sacrifice access to many of the luxuries we see in our day to day lives. While they may not have access to certain freedoms, prisoners are still protected under the US Constitution and have the right to live free from assault and battery. Unfortunately, these rights get violated all too often.
Prisoner Civil Rights Violations
According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, more than two million people – male and female adults and youth under the age of 18 – are incarcerated in local, state, and federal prisons and jails.
Of that population, RAINN estimates that 80,600 individuals experience sexual assault every year, a number that is likely an underestimation. The number of prisoners that experience non-sexual physical assaults is even higher. No matter the type of assault or whether the perpetrator was another inmate or prison staff, it is the responsibility of the institution to prevent this from happening.
Prison Sexual Abuse
The most egregious harm, however, is from sexual assault and abuse in prisons. An estimated 80,000 inmates are sexually victimized each year, of which:
- Four percent experience sexual victimization.
- Nearly ten percent of juveniles in custody experience sexual victimization.
- Half of the reported allegations of nonconsensual sexual acts or sexual abuse are of inmates by other inmates.
- Half involved sexual misconduct, sexual abuse, or sexual harassment of inmates by the staff.
Although the number of rapes and sexual assaults is staggering, inmates may not be aware that the federal Civil Rights Act, the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act, and state laws in Louisiana and elsewhere provide a means to hold the perpetrators accountable both criminally and in civil actions. Damages available from a successful lawsuit can include compensation for physical injuries, emotional distress, psychological harm, and other economic damages caused by the pain and suffering.
Rape and Sexual Assault by Another Inmate
Sexual victimization of an inmate can occur in many ways – adult-on-adult, male-only, female-only, adult-on-youth, and youth-on-youth. Similarly, sexual assault and rape can happen at any time, from short-term lockup in a local jail before arraignment to several years into a long-term prison sentence.
BJS statistics show that there are higher rates of sexual assault against inmates with serious psychological distress. Because an average of 40 percent of inmates report being told by a health professional that they have a mental disorder, there are thousands of prisoners in danger of rape and abuse as well as the risk of sexually transmitted infections and diseases, including HIV and AIDS.
Correctional facilities allow or even encourage inmate-on-inmate sexual misconduct to occur when they:
- Fail to segregate known sexual offenders from other inmates, especially inmates at risk for sexual assault.
- Place youth inmates in adult inmate populations.
- Place mentally or physically disabled inmates in areas or environments where they are likely to be assaulted.
- Fail to properly investigate reports of sexual assault and take appropriate action.
- Fail to comply with federal- and state-mandated prison safety regulations.
Sexual Misconduct by a Prison Guard or Correctional Officer
More disturbing is sexual assault and rape perpetrated by jail staff or prison guards, the people responsible for maintaining order and enforcing safety rules. Victims may feel powerless to resist and are often threatened to not report the rape or abuse.
In a civil lawsuit for staff-on-inmate sexual assault, additional claims may be brought, such as negligent hiring, negligent supervision, or the failure to discipline, reassign, or terminate the staff member.
Talk to a Lawyer with Experience Handling Prison Sexual Abuse Claims
Correctional facilities that fail to protect inmates from sexual assault or unreasonable force while they are in jail or prison must be held responsible. If you or a family member have been raped, molested, or sexually abused when incarcerated please contact the Lamothe Law Firm today to discuss your case and your right to compensation.
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