Nearly 26,000 correctional officers work in the California prison system. According to inmate advocates, incidents of sexual harassment and sexual abuse by staff are more rampant than what the official records reveal because very few officers get investigated or reported.
In the state’s prison system, about four percent of the 124,000 inmates (nearly 5,000 inmates) are women.
Poor Record of Sexual Harassment Investigations
The state prison system is empowered to track and investigate all allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct by the staff in order to comply with the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act. However, in 2018, only 337 incidents involving staff-on-inmate misconduct were reported in California’s prisons.
Worse still, just three of those allegations could be substantiated through investigations. Independent third-party probes into the prevailing culture in women’s prisons in the state have found that formally reported allegations only represent a small fraction of the prevalent sexual harassment and abuse of incarcerated females by the prison staff.
Report Reveals Widespread Incidence of Sexual Harassment and Abuse
The Prison Law Office, an organization that monitors the condition of prison inmates, has interviewed hundreds of female inmates at the Central Valley prison and documented their complaints to present before the court.
According to the organization’s report, out of a random sample of 80 women inmates, almost all of them had experienced sexual harassment or abuse while they were in prison.
A second round of interviews again revealed a similar trend, with women inmates often complaining of sexual misconduct by the same officers. The organization concluded that a culture of sexism and bigotry was prevalent at the prison.
According to a representative of Prison Law Office, “It was a constant stream of verbal sexual harassment or misogynist statements.” Many women inmates complained that prison officers regularly addressed them as “hos” or “bitches”. They would even make announcements on the P.A. system, such as: ‘Hey bitc-es, time to go to lunch’.
Sexual Abuse Across Different Prison Facilities
Sexual harassment and abuse of female prisoners in California is not limited to just one facility, according to the records now available in public. In recent years, four correctional officers at the state’s other major women’s prison in Southern California also were fired for sexual misconduct.
Under the federal and state laws, prison inmates cannot consent to sex with prison guards. According to prison policies in California, sexual misconduct by a correctional officer can lead to their dismissal, and can also be grounds for criminal prosecution.
Speak to a Skilled and Knowledgeable California Sexual Harassment Attorney
If you have been a victim of sexual harassment in California, get ready to speak up and fight for your legal rights. Makarem & Associates has some of the best sexual harassment attorneys in California who will provide you legal counsel and support. Call us at 310-312-0299 or email at [email protected].