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During this module, we will be looking at corrections, specifically, “Women in Prison: Sexual Misconduct by Correctional Staff,” a report written by the United States General Accounting Office. This report is very thorough and will give you an overview of the findings. In addition, the report focuses on four separate organizations: Federal Bureau of Prisons, California Department of Corrections, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, and District of Columbia Department of Corrections. You are to read the government report by clicking here or by going to the Webliography. Then respond logically with your own thoughts and opinions. Respond to the stated question, including any relevance to and implications on the field of criminal justice. Be sure to discuss the issue(s) to which the question pertain(s). Remarks can include your opinion(s), but must be based on experience, research, and/or prior learning. Use this exercise to foster a rich dialogue with your colleagues about issues that are important to the field of criminal justice. APA format and 550-words I have attached the government report
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United States General Accounting Office
GAO
Report to the Honorable
Eleanor Holmes Norton
House of Representatives
June 1999
WOMEN IN PRISON
Sexual Misconduct by
Correctional Staff
GAO/GGD-99-104
GAO
United States
General Accounting Office
Washington, D.C. 20548
General Government Division
B-282772
June 22, 1999
The Honorable Eleanor Holmes Norton
House of Representatives
Dear Ms. Norton:
As you requested, this report addresses two questions about staff-on1
inmate sexual misconduct in women’s prisons:
• What are the applicable laws, policies, and procedures for addressing such
misconduct?
• What are the number, nature, and outcome of allegations that have been
made in recent years?
As agreed with your office, the report focuses on four jurisdictions. These
are the nation’s three largest correctional systems for women offenders—
the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), the California Department of
Corrections, and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice—and the
correctional system in the jurisdiction you represent, the District of
Columbia. At calendar year-end 1998, the 3 largest systems collectively
held over one-third of the nation’s approximately 80,000 female prisoners.
Comparatively, female offenders held by the District of Columbia
Department of Corrections totaled about 320 at year-end 1998. We
performed our work from December 1998 to May 1999 in accordance with
generally accepted government auditing standards. Appendix I presents
detailed information about our scope and methodology.
Results in Brief
During the 1990s, most U.S. correctional jurisdictions have recognized that
staff-on-inmate sexual misconduct is a problem that should not be
tolerated. As of April 1999, the federal government, 41 states (including
California and Texas), and the District of Columbia had passed laws
criminalizing certain types of staff sexual misconduct in prisons. Also,
most U.S. correctional systems have participated in training to help them
develop and implement applicable policies and procedures to address such
misconduct. The four correctional systems we studied have or were in the
1
Staff-on-inmate sexual misconduct can cover a wide range of inappropriate verbal, visual, and
physical behaviors, such as using lewd language or making sexual remarks, observing an inmate’s
personal activities (e.g., showering) without a sound penological reason, and engaging in sexual
contact or acts with or without an inmate’s consent (e.g., touching, kissing, abuse or assault,
intercourse, rape, etc.). Depending on its nature and applicable law, staff sexual misconduct may
involve either noncriminal or criminal acts.
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GAO/GGD-99-104 Staff Sexual Misconduct in Female Prisons
B-282772
process of developing specific policies that prohibit staff sexual
misconduct.
While laws and policies could help minimize staff sexual misconduct, our
work in four jurisdictions indicates that such misconduct still occurs.
According to data provided by the 3 largest jurisdictions, during calendar
years 1995 to 1998, female inmates in these jurisdictions collectively made
a total of 506 allegations of staff sexual misconduct, of which 92 (or 18
percent) were sustained. Most of the sustained allegations resulted in staff
resignations or employment terminations. Further, the full extent of staff
sexual misconduct is unknown since two of the three jurisdictions (BOP
and Texas) did not provide data on all types of allegations. The District of
Columbia provided data for December 1995 to June 1998, during which 12
(or 11 percent) of 111 female-inmate allegations were sustained and
resulted in staff resignations or disciplinary actions ranging from
suspensions to employment terminations. Of the four jurisdictions studied,
only BOP reported having any criminal prosecutions with convictions
under sexual misconduct laws during 1995 to 1998. All four jurisdictions
were involved in at least two civil lawsuits related to staff sexual
misconduct during this period.
Officials in the four jurisdictions cited lack of evidence as the primary
reason why more allegations were not sustained. The officials told us that
most allegations involved verbal harassment, improper visual surveillance,
improper touching, and/or consensual sex. The officials noted that
allegations involving rape and other types of forced sexual assault were
relatively rare. Generally, however, none of the four jurisdictions we
studied had readily available, comprehensive data or reports on the
number, nature, and outcomes of staff-on-inmate sexual misconduct
allegations. The absence of such systemic data or reports makes it difficult
for lawmakers, corrections management, and others to effectively address
staff sexual misconduct issues in federal prisons.
We are making a recommendation to the Director, BOP, to develop
systems and procedures for monitoring, analyzing, and reporting
allegations of staff-on-inmate sexual misconduct in federal prisons.
Staff Sexual
Misconduct Issues
Have Received
Attention in the 1990s
Generally, “sexual misconduct by correctional staff” refers to any type of
improper conduct of a sexual nature directed at prisoners. Given the near
total control and power imbalance inherent in a prison environment, there
is widespread consensus among correctional officials, advocacy groups,
and others that sexual misconduct by correctional staff should not be
tolerated.
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GAO/GGD-99-104 Staff Sexual Misconduct in Female Prisons
B-282772
During the 1990s, sexual misconduct by correctional staff against female
inmates became a matter of increased concern for many correctional
agencies. In addition to the large increase in the female inmate population,
this concern, according to a 1996 report by BOP’s National Institute of
2
Corrections (NIC), was largely driven by two sources of external pressure.
Specifically, the 1996 report noted that, within the past 5 years:
• At least 23 departments of corrections had faced class action or individual
damage suits related to sexual misconduct.
• Most state legislatures had passed laws either making certain types of
sexual misconduct a criminal offense or increasing the penalties for the
offense.
Also, during the 1990s, the Justice Department has filed civil lawsuits
alleging systemic sexual misconduct by male correctional staff in women’s
prisons in two states (Arizona and Michigan). Both suits were filed in
3
March 1997 under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act of 1980,
which is designed to protect the rights of people housed in state and local
governmental institutions, including state prisons. In March 1999, the
Justice Department and Arizona entered into a settlement agreement,
which among other things, requires Arizona to revise employee and inmate
training, strengthen investigative techniques, and requires male officers to
announce their presence—absent reasonable suspicion of inappropriate
behavior—when entering areas in which female inmates may be
undressed. In May 1999, the Justice Department and Michigan entered into
a settlement agreement. According to Justice officials, in addition to
provisions similar to the Arizona requirements, the settlement agreement
requires Michigan to institute a 6-month moratorium on cross-gender patdown searches (not an issue in Arizona).
In 1996, the Association of State Correctional Administrators identified
staff sexual misconduct as one of its major management concerns.
Further, in recent years, additional attention to staff sexual misconduct
has resulted from media focus and reports issued by various
2
Sexual Misconduct in Prisons: Law, Agency Responses, and Prevention, November 1996. The report
was based on the results of a survey conducted by NIC during the summer of 1996. In its survey, NIC
mailed a data collection instrument to federal and state agencies responsible for administering adult
prisons. NIC received responses from 53 departments of corrections—BOP, 47 states, the District of
Columbia, Canada, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico. NIC plans to update this
survey in the summer of 1999.
3
P.L. 96-247 (1980).
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GAO/GGD-99-104 Staff Sexual Misconduct in Female Prisons
B-282772
4
organizations—such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International
6
—and an independent fact-finder for the United Nations.
5
Since 1995, a primary agenda item of NIC has been to assist correctional
departments in addressing the issue of sexual misconduct among staff and
inmates. For example, since October 1995, NIC has trained groups of
correctional leaders—including members of the Association of State
Correctional Administrators, as well as deputy directors and wardens of
correctional facilities—to assist them in developing deliberate
management responses as they shape policy in their agencies.
Also, as of March 1999, NIC had provided on-site technical assistance to 3
BOP facilities, 17 states, and the District of Columbia. According to NIC,
during these on-site visits, NIC representatives provided assistance, such
as
• conducting small focus groups with correctional staff and inmates to
assess training needs and general practices within the institution,
• reviewing operational and management practices that may be contributing
to staff isolation and vulnerability to sexual involvement, and
• providing relevant training to correctional staff.
Further, NIC has developed a 36-hour (initially a 24-hour) seminar on
management strategies to address staff sexual misconduct. According to
NIC, this seminar is to be attended by three-person teams who can shape
and implement departmental policy and procedures. Topics covered
include policy development, training strategies, investigative procedures,
and institutional culture. According to NIC, as of April 1999, officials from
BOP and correctional departments in 37 states have attended the training.
4
Human Rights Watch, Women Rights Project, All Too Familiar: Sexual Abuse of Women in State
Prisons (Human Rights Watch: New York, NY), December 1996. The report reflects work conducted
during March 1994 to November 1996 at a total of 11 nonfederal prisons housing female inmates in 5
states—California, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, and New York—and the District of Columbia.
5
Amnesty International, Rights for All (March 1999).
6
Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, Report on the Mission to the United States of America on the Issue of
Violence Against Women in State and Federal Prisons, in accordance with Commission Rights
resolution 1997/44, January 4, 1999. The fact-finder’s report is based on visits to federal and state
prisons in six states—California, Connecticut, Georgia, Minnesota, New Jersey, and New York.
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GAO/GGD-99-104 Staff Sexual Misconduct in Female Prisons
B-282772
Most Jurisdictions
Have Laws That
Criminalize Certain
Types of Staff Sexual
Misconduct in Prisons
According to NIC, as recently as 1990, perhaps as few as 11 U.S.
correctional jurisdictions—the federal government and about 10 states—
had laws specifically prohibiting certain types of staff-on-inmate sexual
misconduct. As of April 1999, however, according to an update to a 1998
7
National Women’s Law Center report:
• In addition to the federal government, 41 states and the District of
Columbia had laws specifically criminalizing certain types of sexual
8
misconduct in prisons.
• The federal government and 5 of the 41 states define certain types of
sexual misconduct in prisons as either a felony or a misdemeanor,
depending on the nature and severity of the conduct.
• Of the other 36 states with applicable laws, 28 states (and the District of
Columbia) define such conduct as a felony, and 8 states treat such conduct
as a misdemeanor.
According to the National Women’s Law Center’s 1998 report, because the
provisions of criminal statutes are jurisdiction specific, both the definition
of sexual misconduct and the penalty imposed for violations vary from
state to state. Further, the report noted that even if the state has no
criminal law specifically prohibiting sexual misconduct by correctional
staff, a prosecutor may apply the general sexual abuse or assault laws of
the state. The Center’s report also noted that inmates may file civil actions
for intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, and assault
and/or battery.
NIC, in its 1996 report mentioned above, noted that some states’ laws
criminalizing sexual misconduct apply to correctional staff in particular,
whereas other states’ laws apply to public employees generally.
All four jurisdictions we studied—the federal government, California,
Texas, and the District of Columbia—have laws criminalizing certain types
7
The April 1999 update was compiled by Brenda V. Smith (Associate Professor, Washington College of
Law, American University) and Giovanna Shay (Soros Justice Fellow, American Civil Liberties Union
National Prison Project) and had not been published at the time of our review. Professor Smith
authored the 1998 report while employed as the Director of the Women in Prison Project at the
National Women’s Law Center, An End To Silence: Women Prisoners’ Handbook on Identifying and
Addressing Sexual Misconduct (Washington, D.C.), April 1998.
8
According to Professor Smith and Giovanna Shay, as of April 1999, the nine states without laws
specifically criminalizing certain types of staff sexual misconduct were Alabama, Kentucky,
Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Vermont. The researchers
noted that, although Nebraska and Vermont did not have laws, they had legislation pending.
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GAO/GGD-99-104 Staff Sexual Misconduct in Female Prisons
B-282772
9
of staff-on-inmate sexual misconduct. The federal law was passed in 1986,
10
11
while the other three laws—California, Texas, and the District of
12
Columbia —were passed during the mid-1990s.
Two of the four jurisdictions (the federal government and California)
define certain types of staff sexual misconduct as either a felony or a
misdemeanor depending on the frequency, nature, and/or severity of the
conduct. The other two jurisdictions (Texas and the District of Columbia)
define such conduct as a felony. None of the staff sexual misconduct laws
in the four jurisdictions list consent as a defense.
Sexual Misconduct
Policies, Staff Training,
and Inmate Awareness
Are Important
Whatever the scope of applicable laws, NIC suggests that departments of
corrections have policies that clearly define, prohibit, and specify penalties
for the full range of sexual misconduct involving staff and inmates.
The four correctional jurisdictions we studied have or were in the process
of developing staff sexual misconduct policies. More specifically, as of
June 1999, BOP and the District of Columbia Department of Corrections
had approved policies, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice had a
draft policy (expected to be finalized and implemented in September
1999), and the California Department of Corrections was in the process of
developing its policy.
NIC also suggests that, in addition to having a clear policy, the elements of
a comprehensive approach to preventing staff sexual misconduct include
the following:
• a staff-training program that presents clear information on applicable laws,
agency policies, and penalties;
• a means for providing inmates with basic information about applicable
laws, agency policies, and penalties, including the penalties for making
false allegations regarding sexual misconduct; and
• specific procedures for handling and investigating allegations of staff
sexual misconduct.
9
The Sexual Abuse Act of 1986 (P.L. 99-646) (codified at 18 U.S.C. sections 2241-2244, and other
scattered sections).
10
California Penal Code section 289.6, “Employee or officer of detention facility; Engaging in sexual
activity with consenting adult confined in detention facility.”
11
Texas Penal Code, section 39.04, “Violations of the Civil Rights of Person in Custody; Improper Sexual
Activity with Person in Custody.”
12
The Anti-Sexual Abuse Act of 1994 (D.C. Law 10-257) (D.C. Code section 22-4101 et seq.).
Page 6
GAO/GGD-99-104 Staff Sexual Misconduct in Female Prisons
B-282772
Three of the four jurisdictions we studied (BOP, Texas, and the District of
Columbia) provide prison staff and female inmates with formal training or
briefings that were specifically developed to address staff sexual
misconduct. California Department of Corrections officials told us that
although prison staff are not provided with training specifically developed
to address staff sexual misconduct, this topic is covered during staff
orientation and other training. California officials also told us that although
female inmates are not provided training on staff sexual misconduct, they
are given an orientation handbook that outlines the process for reporting
any type of employee misconduct.
Further, all four jurisdictions have procedures for handling and
investigating allegations of staff-on-inmate sexual misconduct, including
when such allegations should be handled administratively or referred for
criminal prosecution. Generally, an internal affairs component is
responsible for conducting investigations and making referrals.
Additional information on sexual misconduct laws, policies, and
procedures in the four correctional jurisdictions we studied is presented in
appendix II.
Staff Sexual
Misconduct Occurs,
Although the Full
Extent Is Unknown
Available data provided to us by the four jurisdictions we studied indicate
that staff sexual misconduct in women’s prisons is not a hypothetical
issue, i.e., such misconduct does occur. The data show that during
calendar years 1995 to 1998:
• At least 92 allegations of staff sexual misconduct were sustained in the
three largest U.S. correctional systems. That is, the allegations resulted in
13
staff resignations, employment terminations, or other administrative
sanctions.
• Only BOP reported having any criminal prosecutions with convictions
under staff sexual misconduct laws.
• Each of the four jurisdictions was involved in at least two civil lawsuits
related to staff sexual misconduct.
While the data indicate that staff sexual misconduct occurs, the full extent
of the problem is unknown. Many correctional experts believe that staffon-inmate sexual misconduct is likely underreported nationally due to the
fear of retaliation and vulnerability felt by female inmates. Also, as
13
Sustained allegations include applicable staff resignations that resulted during or after investigations.
According to correctional officials, these were cases wherein the investigations concluded that a
preponderance of the evidence supported the allegations that violations had occurred.
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GAO/GGD-99-104 Staff Sexual Misconduct in Female Prisons
B-282772
discussed more fully later in this report, the jurisdictions we studied did
not have readily available, comprehensive data on the number, nature, and
outcome of sexual misconduct allegations. For example, BOP and Texas
provided data only on the more serious types of allegations, such as
improper sexual contact and assault. These jurisdictions either did not
have or could not readily compile data on allegations involving other types
of sexual misconduct, such as verbal harassment and inappropriate visual
surveillance.
At Least 92 Allegations of
Staff Sexual Misconduct
Were Sustained in the Three
Largest U.S. Correctional
Systems During 1995 to
1998
Table 1: Staff-on-Inmate Sexual
Misconduct Allegations Reported and
Sustained at BOP, California, and Texas
Female Prisons, Calendar Years 1995 to
1998
According to data provided to us by BOP, California, and Texas officials,
female inmates in these three jurisdictions collectively made a total of at
least 506 allegations of staff-on-inmate sexual misconduct during calendar
years 1995 to …
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