Chris Uggen's Blog: new bjs report on sexual victimization in local jails

Thursday, June 26, 2008

new bjs report on sexual victimization in local jails

the bureau of justice statistics has released a large-scale study of self-reported sexual victimization in local jails. i made the quick figure above to show the estimated prevalence of such victimization for different inmate groups: about 5% of females and 3% of males reported sexual victimization and rates were disproportionately high for inmates of color, youth, and more educated inmates. prior victimization and (self-identified) sexual orientation are most strongly correlated with victimization, however, with about one in 10 bisexual inmates and almost one in five homosexual inmates reporting sexual victimization.

one hopes that such data can help provide a road map for reducing sexual assaults in correctional facilities -- and protecting those most subject to victimization. courageously, the bjs report also identifies the specific jails with especially high or low rates of sexual victimization:

The Torrance County Detention Facility (New Mexico) had the highest rate — 10.1% when sexual victimization excluded willing activity with staff and 8.9% when victimization excluded abusive sexual contacts (allegations of touching only). The Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail and the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center (New Mexico) were also among the top five facilities on each of these more serious measures of sexual victimization.


At 8:21 PM, Blogger newsocprof said...


Val Jenness and Cheryl Maxson are studying this in the CA prisons, with fascinating results. A short bulletin is here:

Most interesting is the finding on sexual orientation (as you point out) -- they are now doing an interview study focused on the experiences of transgender inmates. The pubs coming out of the project should be very interesting -- suffice it to say, the transgender inmate population is marginalized in ways we don't even begin to think about...

At 3:21 PM, Blogger Kieran said...

rates were disproportionately high for inmates of color, youth, and less-educated inmates.

More-educated, no?

At 3:29 PM, Blogger christopher uggen said...

good catch, kieran. there aren't that many college grads in jail, but the better-educated are indeed most likely to report victimization by staff and by other inmates. here are the raw numbers and prevalence rates for each education category:

Less than high school 287,800 2.8%
High school graduate 282,500 3.1%
Some collegee 175,100 3.7%
College degree or more 22,500 4.6%

i'm going to sneak in and change the original post...


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