Propublica reports that a new Department of Justice study says that nearly one-half of sexual assaults in prison are committed by prison guards.

The study, which covered the years 2009 to 2011, notes that “Correctional administrators reported 8,763 allegations of sexual victimization in prisons, jails, and other adult correctional facilities in 2011, a statistically significant increase over the number of allegations reported in 2009 (7,855) and 2010 (8,404).”

And drilling down on the numbers paints an even worse picture than that.  With the average prisoner to guard ratio in U.S. prisons running at about 20 to 1, an individual guard is about twenty times more likely to commit the crime of sexual assault than the convicted criminals in his or her charge.

“The survey also shows a growing proportion of the allegations have been dismissed by prison officials as ‘unfounded’ or ‘unsubstantiated,'” reported Propublica. “Only about 10 percent are substantiated by an investigation.”

“But even in the rare cases where there is enough evidence to prove that sexual abuse occurred, and that a correctional officer is responsible for it, the perpetrator rarely faces prosecution. While most prison staff shown to be involved in sexual misconduct lost their jobs, fewer than half were referred for prosecution, and only 1 percent ultimately got convicted. ”

“Roughly one-third of staff caught abusing prisoners are allowed to resign before the investigation comes to a close, the report concludes, meaning there’s no public record of what exactly transpired and nothing preventing them from getting a similar job at another facility.”

Read more here.

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