• Press Release

“Shocking Levels” of Sexual Abuse in Prisons Cannot Continue

May 16, 2013

Contact: Sharon Singh, [email protected], 202-675-8579, @AIUSAmedia

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – In response to the release of the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics annual report, Sexual Victimizations in Prisons and Jails Reported by Inmates, 2011-12, as required under the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA), Michelle Ringuette, chief of campaigns and programs for Amnesty International USA, issued the following statement:

“The shocking levels of sexual violence against juveniles, the mentally ill and inmates who identify as LGBT in U.S. prisons and jails demonstrate that more must be done to protect inmates from predatory staff. Rape in such cases is considered to be an act of torture. This report is a sad indictment on the U.S. prison system and shows a failure to adhere to international human rights standards that require inmates to be protected from sexual abuse.”


The statistics for victimizations of specific groups in custody still remain shockingly high ten years after the passage of PREA and a full year after the issuance of the Department of Justice PREA standards.

  • Inmates who identify as LGBT in prisons and jails were at least 2.5 times likely to be sexually victimized by staff than non-LGBT detainees.
  • The study provides findings for the first time on sexual victimization of juveniles (ages 16 to 17) held in adult facilities. The survey found that 3.2 percent of juveniles held in both prisons and jails suffered sexual misconduct involving staff, which was higher than the victimization of adults in prisons (2.4 percent) and jails (1.8 percent).

Amnesty International previously documented custodial sexual misconduct in Not Part of my Sentence: Violations of the Human Rights of Women in Custody (1999) and Abuse of Women in Custody: Sexual Misconduct and Shackling of Pregnant Women (2001) and (2006).

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.