BJS: Bureau of Justice Statistics

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Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS)
Home  | Terms & Definitions: Corrections | Prison Rape Elimination Act
Terms & Definitions: Prison Rape Elimination Act

Sexual victimization as reported by adult correctional authorities
Inmate-on-inmate or youth-on-youth sexual victimization involves sexual contact with a victim without his or her consent or with a victim who cannot consent or refuse.

Nonconsensual sexual acts are the most serious victimizations, and include-

  • contact between the penis and the vagina or the penis and the anus, including penetration, however slight
  • contact between the mouth and the penis, vagina, or anus
  • penetration of the anal or genital opening of another person by a hand, finger, or other object.

Abusive sexual contacts are less serious victimizations, and include-

  • intentional touching, either directly or through clothing, of the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks of any person
  • incidents in which the intent was to sexually exploit (rather than to harm or debilitate).

Staff-on-inmate or staff-on-youth sexual victimization includes both consensual and nonconsensual acts perpetrated on an inmate by staff. Staff includes an employee, volunteer, contractor, official visitor, or other agency representative. Family, friends, and other visitors are excluded.

Staff sexual misconduct includes any act or behavior of a sexual nature directed toward an inmate by staff, including romantic relationships. Such acts include-

  • intentional touching of the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks with the intent to abuse, arouse, or gratify sexual desire
  • completed, attempted, threatened, or requested sexual acts, occurrences of indecent exposure, invasion of privacy, or staff voyeurism for sexual gratification.

Staff sexual harassment includes repeated verbal statements or comments of a sexual nature to an inmate by staff. Such statements include-

  • demeaning references to an inmate's sex or derogatory comments about his or her body or clothing
  • repeated profane or obscene language or gestures.

Sexual victimization as reported by youth in juvenile facilities

Sexual victimization any forced sexual activity with another youth (nonconsensual sexual acts and other sexual contacts) and all sexual activity with facility staff.

Nonconsensual sexual acts any forced sexual acts with another youth and all sexual acts with facility staff involving contact with the penis and the vagina or anus; contact between the mouth and the penis, vagina, or anus; penetration of the anal or vaginal opening of another person by a hand, finger, or other object; and rubbing of another person's penis or vagina by a hand.

Other sexual contacts only includes kissing on the lips or another part of the body, looking at private body parts, being shown something sexual, such as pictures or a movie, and engaging in some other sexual act that did not involve touching.

Staff sexual misconduct all sexual activity with facility staff, including contact with the penis and the vagina or anus; contact between the mouth and the penis, vagina, or anus; penetration of the anal or vaginal opening of another person by a hand, finger, or other object; rubbing of another person's penis or vagina by a hand; kissing on the lips or another part of the body; looking at private body parts; being shown something sexual, such as pictures or a movie; and engaging in some other sexual act that did not involve touching.

Staff sexual misconduct excluding touching sexual activity with facility staff involving contact with the penis and the vagina or anus; contact between the mouth and the penis, vagina, or anus; penetration of the anal or vaginal opening of another person by a hand, finger, or other object; and rubbing of another person's penis or vagina by a hand.

Forced sexual activity includes sexual activity between youth and facility staff as a result of physical force or threat of physical force; force or pressure of some other type (e.g., threatening with harm, threatening to get the youth in trouble, pressuring the youth, or forcing or pressuring in some other way); and in return for money, favors, protection, or other special treatment.

Sexual victimization as self-reported by inmates in adult correctional facilities

Sexual victimization all types of sexual activity, e.g., oral, anal, or vaginal penetration; hand jobs; touching of the inmate's buttocks, thighs, penis, breasts, or vagina in a sexual way; abusive sexual contacts; and both willing and unwilling sexual activity with staff.

Nonconsensual sexual acts unwanted contacts with another inmate or any contacts with staff that involved oral, anal, vaginal penetration, hand jobs, and other sexual acts.

Abusive sexual contacts only unwanted contacts with another inmate or any contacts with staff that involved touching of the inmate's buttocks, thigh, penis, breasts, or vagina in a sexual way.

Unwilling activity incidents of unwanted sexual contacts with another inmate or staff.

Willing activity incidents of willing sexual contacts with staff. These contacts are characterized by the reporting inmates as willing; however, all sexual contacts between inmates and staff are legally nonconsensual.

Staff sexual misconduct includes all incidents of willing and unwilling sexual contact with facility staff and all incidents of sexual activity that involved oral, anal, vaginal penetration, hand jobs, blow jobs, and other sexual acts with facility staff.


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