BJS: Bureau of Justice Statistics

clear image
Home  |  About Us  |  Contact Us  |  Help  |  A-Z Topic List
Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS)
clear image
Home  |  Press Releases
ADVANCE FOR RELEASE AT 4:00 P.M. EDT Bureau of Justice Statistics
THURSDAY, AUGUST 16, 2007 Contact: Stu Smith 202-307-0784 After hours: 301-983-9354


One in Six Were Confirmed After an Investigation

WASHINGTON—Federal, state and local correctional authorities reported an estimated 6,528 allegations of sexual violence involving incarcerated men and women during 2006, the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today. It was the equivalent of 2.9 allegations per 1,000 inmates in prisons, jails, and other adult correctional facilities during 2006.

An estimated 47 percent of the allegations involved sexual violence between inmates – 34 percent were nonconsensual sexual acts, such as rape and forcible sodomy; 13 percent were abusive sexual contacts, such as unwanted touching or grabbing with the intention to sexually exploit.

More than half of the allegations involved staff – 36 percent involved staff sexual misconduct, defined as any act of a sexual nature directed toward an inmate, either consensual or nonconsensual; 17 percent involved staff sexual harassment, including repeated comments or demeaning references of a sexual nature to an inmate.

Correctional authorities substantiated an estimated 967 incidents of sexual violence, which was 17 percent of allegations with completed investigations. Authorities were unable to substantiate 55 percent of the allegations. Another 29 percent of the allegations were determined not to have occurred.

Physical force or threat of force was involved in more than half of inmate-on-inmate substantiated incidents.  The sexual violence occurred in the victim's cell or living area in two-thirds of the incidents.  It occurred in a common area, such as a shower or dayroom, in 17 percent of the incidents.

Victims received physical injuries in 20 percent of substantiated incidents of inmate-on-inmate sexual violence.  Almost four in five victims received some type of medical follow-up, including an examination, rape kit, HIV/STD test or counseling.

Forty percent of the victims of inmate-on-inmate sexual violence were placed in protective custody or administrative segregation; 16 percent were transferred to another facility and 13 percent were placed in a medical unit.

The perpetrators were arrested or referred for prosecution in less than half of the inmate-on-inmate incidents, and placed in solitary confinement in more than three-quarters of the incidents.

More than half of incidents of staff sexual misconduct and harassment with inmates appeared to be willing.  One-third involved staff sexual harassment, indecent exposure and unwanted touching.  Fewer than 10 percent of the incidents involved staff physical force, abuse of power or pressure.

In state and federal prisons, 65 percent of the victims of staff misconduct were male and 58 percent of the perpetrators were female.  In local jails, 80 percent of the victims were female and 79 percent of the perpetrators were male.

Most substantiated incidents of staff sexual misconduct and harassment involved correctional officers (75 percent).  About 10 percent of the incidents involved contract employees or vendors.  Three-quarters of the perpetrators of staff misconduct were discharged and 56 percent were arrested or referred for prosecution.

The report is a part of the data collections required under the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (Public Law 108-79).  Its publication is mandated by the act and is prepared annually.  Data on sexual violence as reported by the juvenile justice authorities will be published later this year.

As a part of BJS' implementation strategy, surveys of victims will be conducted in 2007 and 2008 in the following collections:

The National Inmate Survey, based on victim self-reports of sexual violence in 148 prisons and 302 jails, is underway. Rankings of prison facilities are expected in November 2007. Data collection in jails will continue through December 2007.

The National Survey of Youths in Custody, based on victim self-reports of sexual violence from  youth, will be implemented in a sample of 208 state-operated facilities and 48 large nonstate-operated facilities in early 2008.

The National Survey of Sexual Assault Reported by Former Inmates, a victim self-report survey of former state inmates under active supervision, is expected to occur in 285 parole offices (with up to 16,500 interviews) in late 2007.

The report, Sexual Violence Reported by Correctional Authorities 2006 (NCJ-218914), was
written by BJS statisticians Allen J. Beck and Paige M. Harrison and BJS policy analyst Devon B.
Adams. Following publication it can be found at

For additional information about the Bureau of Justice Statistics please visit the BJS Web site at

The Office of Justice Programs (OJP), headed by Assistant Attorney General Regina B. Schofield, provides federal leadership in developing the nation's capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice and assist victims. OJP has five component bureaus: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; and the Office for Victims of Crime.  Additionally, OJP has two program offices: the Community Capacity Development Office, which incorporates the Weed and Seed strategy, and the Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking (SMART) Office.  More information can be found at

# # #


Back to Top