Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Sexual violence in prisons

On Sunday, the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics released a report titled, "Sexual Violence Reported by Correctional Authorities, 2004." A BJS press release about the report is here. The report itself is available here. According to the report, Louisiana had only one allegation of "inmate-on-inmate sexual violence reported by State or Federal prison authorities" in 2004. It was ultimately classified as "unfounded." Louisiana had 18 different "Allegations of staff sexual misconduct with inmates reported by State and Federal prison authorities." None of them were "substantiated." 7 were deemed "unsubstantiated" and 10 were found to be "unfounded." Numerous footnotes explain how the total number of allegations could be different from the numbers found to be substantiated, unsubstantiated, or unfounded. As for reports from local prison or jail authorities in Louisiana, here's a quick snapshot: --Caddo Parish had 1 substantiated allegation. --East Baton Rouge had 4 allegations, 2 of them unsubstantiated, 2 outstanding. --Orleans Parish had 10 allegations, all of them substantiated. --Rapides Parish had 1 unsubstantiated allegation. The report contains additional information pertaining to Louisiana, including statistics for privately-run prisons and juvenile facilities. When the New York Times reported on the BJS report it emphasized that "Sexual assaults and other illicit incidents of sexual contact are reported at juvenile prisons at 10 times the rate than at adult lockups." (Note: For Louisiana there were no substantiated allegations concerning youth.) The NYT also noted that, overall "For 2004, more than 8,200 allegations of sex violence were reported to corrections officials, the report said. About one-third of the complaints were substantiated by officials, and 15 percent were still being investigated." "Most of the allegations," it continued, "about 55 percent, were either false or there was not enough evidence to support or reject them." NPR also covered the report on Monday morning. The only "good news" of any sort in the BJS report: 4 of Louisiana's local jail jurisdictions had "no allegations of inmate-on-inmate sexual violence and staff sexual misconduct" in 2004. Those jurisdictions were: Livingston Parish, Shreveport City, St. Charles Parish and West Baton Rouge Parish.