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Rape Among Incarcerated Men

Rape Among Incarcerated Men

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Published by woodstockwoody
A youthful inmate can expect to be subjected to
homosexual rape his first night in jail, or, it has been
said, even on the van on the way to jail. Weaker
prisoners become the property of stronger prisoners
or gangs, who sell the sexual services of the
A youthful inmate can expect to be subjected to
homosexual rape his first night in jail, or, it has been
said, even on the van on the way to jail. Weaker
prisoners become the property of stronger prisoners
or gangs, who sell the sexual services of the

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Published by: woodstockwoody on Aug 16, 2010
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AIDS PATIENT CARE and STDsVolume 17, Number 8, 2003© Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
Rape Among Incarcerated Men:Sex, Coercion and STDs
ABSTRACTMale inmates fear being raped most of all. Criminologists have yet to reach consensus on theprevalence of male inmate-on-inmate rape. The leading prevalence studies found that 7–12%of the responding male inmates had been raped an average of nine times. With a national jailand prison population of 2 million at mid-year 2002, the United States likely exposes tens ofthousands of male inmates to rape, and consequently, to HIV/AIDS and other sexually trans-mitted diseases (STDs). The release of inmates from jails and prisons—estimated at 11.5 mil-lion persons in 1998—transforms the consequences of male rape from a correctional matterinto a public health crisis. The quest for dominance and control over other inmates—not sex-ual release—best explains male custodial rape. Prison sexual predators are typically hetero-sexual. Their victims, however, involuntarily assume female roles in the prison sexual sys-tem. Moreover, they experience stigmatization by inmates and staff as well as physical andmental trauma. Civil rights litigation on behalf of victims rarely succeeds and damage awardsare usually small. In 2003, Congress provided $13 million for the study and prevention of rapein jails and prisons. Preventing custodial rape and treating its victims will require a sustainedcommitment by government.
A youthful inmate can expect to be subjected tohomosexual rape his first night in jail, or, it has beensaid, even on the van on the way to jail. Weakerprisoners become the property of stronger prison-ers or gangs, who sell the sexual services of thevictim. Prison officials either are disinterested instopping abuse of prisoners by other prisoners orincapable of doing so. ... United States v. Bailey,444 U.S. 394, 420 (1980) (Blackmun, J. dissenting).
?” That question more thanany other haunts men awaiting incarcer-ation.
And for good reason: “New convicts arealmost instantly sized up as dominant and sub-missive, penetrator or penetrated.”
Targetedinmates must “fight, fuck, or flee.”
A jail or prison rape can impose an “unad- judicated death sentence”
 because of the riskof contracting HIV/AIDS. A March 2002 report by the National Commission on CorrectionalHealth Care (NCCHC) estimated that 0.5% ofinmates confined in state and federal prisonsin 1996 had AIDS, 5 times the prevalence in theU.S. population.
The NCCHC estimated amuch higher incidence of HIV infection (non-AIDS): 2.3%–2.98% of all state and federal pris-oners, 4 times the prevalence in the U.S. popu-lation.
Between 1995 and 2000, the prevalenceof HIV-positive prisoners ranged from 2.3%–
Department of Sociology and Corrections, Minnesota State University, Mankato, Minnesota.
2.1% for males and decreased from 4.0% to3.4% for females.
Other sexually transmitteddiseases (STDs) found among state and federalprisoners in 1996 included syphilis (2.6%–4.3%of all prisoners); chlamydia (2.4% of all pris-oners); gonorrhea (1.0% of all prisoners); he-patitis B (2.0% of all prisoners); hepatitis C(17.0%–18.6% of all prisoners); tuberculosis dis-ease (0.04% of all prisoners); and tuberculosisinfection (7.4% of all prisoners).
Similar rateswere reported for inmates confined to local jails, with the exception of HIV infection(1.2%–1.8% of jailed persons).
An unprecedented number of inmates arethreatened with rape and its collateral conse-quences. At mid-year 2002, the nation confined just over 2 million people in its jails and pris-ons.
The incarceration rate reached a record702 persons per 100,000 U.S. residents, a 53%increase since 1990.
The custodial populationremained disproportionately male, black, andunder age 40.
While the rate of populationgrowth among female inmates has outpacedtheir male counterparts since 1995, males com-prised 93% of all inmates and were 15 timesmore likely than women to be imprisoned.
Black non-Hispanic males between the ages of20 and 39 numbered nearly 600,000.
At theclose of 2001, black non-Hispanic males of allage groups constituted 43% of the prison pop-ulation, compared to 36% white non-Hispanicprisoners and 16% Hispanic prisoners.
The growing numbers of inmates releasedfrom jails and prisons—estimated at 11.5 mil-lion persons in 1998
—transforms the conse-quences of male rape from a correctional issueinto a public health crisis. The NCCHC esti-mated that jail and prison inmates released in1996 accounted for an estimated 13.1%–19.3%of all HIV cases; 17% of all AIDS cases; 12.4%–15.5% of all hepatitis B cases; 28.9%–32.0% ofall hepatitis B cases; and 35% of all tuberculo-sis cases.
This paper provides the reader with a primeron male inmate-on-inmate rape. Rape in thiscontext denotes oral or anal intercourse. Al-though female inmates experience sexual abuse,the distinctive prison experience of male in-mates as well as other considerations dictatethat I solely address their victimization. Once“shrouded in dead silence,”
male inmate-on-inmate rape imperils a vast jail and prison pop-ulation and the communities that eventuallyreceive large numbers of undiagnosed and un-treated former inmates.
The contemporary prison operates as a“human warehouse with a jungle-like under-ground.”
Daily life for most inmates consistsof “deadening routine punctuated by burstsof fear and violence.”
Over the past fourdecades a reign of terror has descended overmany of the nation’s prisons. Murder and as-sault rates may be several times higher than thenational average.
While “doing time” appears highly regi-mented, inmates encounter a
environ-ment resembling an urban slum.
Here onefinds powerful gangs; an illicit economy fueled by drugs; outnumbered and sometimes cor-rupted correctional officers, who accommodateinmate desires in exchange for “surface” order;and a fragmented inmate population largelycomposed of uneducated, impoverished, youngmen.
Criminal statutes and prison regulations over-lay the prison subculture. Both prohibit malerape.
Prosecutors, however, rarely bringcharges against accused prison rapists.
Indeed,they can usually ply their aggression with im-punity. The nation’s crowded prisons, repletewith multiple occupancy cells and communal bathing areas, render many rapes undetectable.
Correctional officers hold ambivalent attitudesabout male prison rape. While most officers willprotect inmates from sexual assault, many erro-neously regard subtle forms of coerced sex—such as exchanging sex for protection fromgang rape—as consensual.
Officers frequentlyfault targeted inmates who failed to vigorouslydefend themselves.
Allegations abound thatprison staff set up rapes to either pacify aggres-sive inmates or punish troublemakers.
Anecdotal accounts of custodial rape almostinvariably describe it as commonplace.
ever, social scientists vigorously debate its fre-quency.
 Just over half of U.S. states fail to col-lect data on rapes occurring in their jails andprisons.
Consequently, determining the na-tional rate remains elusive.Prison records greatly undercount sexualassaults because inmates infrequently reporttheir victimization.
Raped inmates fail to no-tify prison workers out of shame, fear of retali-ation by their assailants, adherence to an inmatecode that labels such conduct as “snitching,”and concern that staff will disbelieve or ridiculethem and/or do nothing.
Disparate findings emerge from prevalencestudies. In 1968, Davis
conducted the firstmajor study of male custodial rape. He inter-viewed 3304 male inmates housed in Philadel-phia’s jails and concluded that 3% had beenraped.
In 1978, Lockwood’s interviews
withsome 100 randomly selected inmates revealedthat 28% had been targets of sexual aggression but only 1.3% experienced coerced anal or oralcopulation. By contrast, 14% of the 200 Cali-fornia inmates responding to an anonymoussurvey during 1979–1980 reported being “pres-sured into having sex against their will.”
The three major studies conducted over thenext 14 years found a low incidence of rape. In1983, Nacci and Kane
reported a rape preva-lence of 0.3% upon surveying 330 male inmatesin 17 federal prisons. Five years later, Tewks- bury
anonymously queried 150 male inmatesin an Ohio prison and received no reports ofrape from the 137 respondents. In face-to-faceinterviews with 106 inmates confined to aDelaware prison in 1994, Saum et al.
reporteda prevalence just under 1%.Later in the 1990s, Struckman-Johnson et al.
undertook the two most rigorous and general-izable surveys to date of male custodial rape.Approximately 30% of 1708 men in two mediumsecurity and one minimum security prisons inNebraska returned anonymous surveys in thefirst of the studies.
Twenty-two percent of therespondents reported coerced sexual contactand 12% reported coerced anal or oral sex dur-ing their confinement in Nebraska correctionalfacilities.
In 1998, Struckman-Johnson et al.
surveyed7032 male inmates in seven midwestern states.Twenty-one percent of the respondents re-ported coerced sexual contact during confine-ment in their state prison system.
Seven per-cent of the respondents reported coerced oralor anal sex in their current prison.
Among theseveral prisons, the prevalence of coerced sex-ual contact ranged from 4%–21% and the inci-dence of coerced oral or anal sex ranged from0.0%–11%.
The largest prisons, with over 1000inmates, had the highest rates. One of every 5respondents confined to the largest prisons re-ported staff involvement in a sexual incident.
Commentators have attributed the disparatefindings of the aforementioned studies to sev-eral methodological limitations. They include:(1) small, unrepresentative samples; (2) highrates of illiteracy among surveyed inmates; (3)respondents’ underreporting of victimization,especially in personal interviews; and (4) dis-similar management practices, some of whichtolerant rape.
Moreover, these studies assumed a mean-ingful distinction between coerced and con-sensual sexual acts. Inquiries into consensualsex have reported participation rates rangingfrom 25%–65%.
Sexual practices that areoutwardly consensual, however, are usually bounded by fear, threat, and intimidation. Co-ercive techniques include the threat of harm,the presence of a weapon, and the size andstrength of the aggressor.
For instance, acommon tactic involves extending credit for aday at an interest rate of $2 for every $1 loaned.When the “mark”—usually a naive, drug-addicted inmate—cannot make good on hisdebt, he will be given the option of “servicing”the debt through copulation or face repeated beatings.
The etiology of custodial rape resembles thatof female rape: both are more about power andcontrol than sexual release.
Indeed, the pris-oner subculture regards the rape of a fellow in-mate as one of the premier forms of masculinedomination. Accordingly, most inmate sexualaggressors view themselves as heterosexual.
“Turning out” an inmate (prison argot forraping him) assigns assailant and victim to so-cially constructed, hierarchical gender roles.

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