Appendix 1

Sexual assault in the correctional environment

Sexual assault in the correctional environment

Most sexual assault in community confinement and juvenile detention facilities can be categorized as resident-on-resident assaults or as staff sexual misconduct:[1]

  • Nonconsensual sexual contact between residents in the facility. An individual housed in a correctional facility may coerce another resident into sexual activity. For example, a resident may acquiesce to sexual contact as a result of being threatened, intimidated, or bribed, or to pay off debts for protection, items, or services. Sexual assault may involve physical violence or the threat of it, but not always. Residents and facility staff may not initially perceive sexual contact as sexual assault if it does not involve a threat of violence.
  • Staff sexual misconduct. No sexual activity between corrections staff (employees, contractors, and volunteers) and residents in the facility is consensual, even if one or both parties believe it to be. Given the custodial authority that corrections staff have over individuals in their facilities, there is an unequal power dynamic that makes true consent impossible.

Residents in community confinement who have some level of freedom to leave the facility may experience sexual victimization in the community. Residents in community confinement and juvenile detention may have experienced sexual victimization before arriving at the facility, while in another correctional setting, or in the community.

[1] C. Abner, J. Browning, and J. Clark, Preventing and Responding to Corrections-Based Sexual Abuse: A Guide for Community Corrections Professionals (Lexington, KY: American Probation and Parole Association, with the International Community Corrections Association and Pretrial Justice Institute, 2009).

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