More than 60,000 inmates are sexually abused every year, according to a report being made public Tuesday by the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission. The eight-member panel was formed under the 2003 Prison Rape Elimination Act.
Based on a 2007 survey of tens of thousands of incarcerated people, 4.5 percent of those surveyed reported being sexually abused in the previous 12 months - and more prisoners claimed abuse by staff than by other inmates.
Among the key findings of the report aimed at reducing the amount of rape, sexual assault and sexual abuse behind bars, the panel found:
To fight the problem, the commission says prison authorities should adopt more internal monitoring and external oversight. They also say prison officials need to improve investigation of claims of sexual assault and rape, because currently many victims cannot safely and easily come forward.
After the prison rape report is sent to Congress, the attorney general is to create new national standards for detecting and preventing rape and sexual assault in prisons, jails and detention facilities.