It then analyzes the gap in the federal law regarding federal prisoners held in contract facilities.Finally, it sets forth our recommendations regarding changes in federal criminal law that we believe are needed to provide greater deterrence of staff sexual abuse of federal inmates.The report noted that the full extent of staff sexual abuse of female inmates in federal prisons was unknown because it was underreported.
Moreover, it is often difficult to obtain physical evidence to corroborate allegations of staff sexual abuse. In response, the NIC has conducted workshops and training programs for officials from various prisons and community corrections agencies regarding investigating allegations of staff sexual misconduct and addressing staff sexual abuse. First, staff members and inmates are in inherently unequal positions, and inmates do not have the same ability as staff members to consent to a sexual relationship.
The second deficiency in current federal laws covering sexual abuse of inmates is that they do not apply when federal inmates are held in facilities under contract to the federal government rather than in BOP facilities.
Courts have found that such contract facilities are not covered by the laws criminalizing sexual abuse of federal inmates because the laws are limited to “federal correctional, detention or penal facilit[ies].” Similarly, this limitation has hampered the OIGs ability to obtain prosecutions for staff who sexually abuse federal inmates incarcerated by the BOP at contract facilities.
The Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General (OIG) is responsible for investigating allegations of staff sexual abuse of inmates held in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). The OIG believes that current federal laws criminalizing staff sexual relations with federal prisoners are deficient in two critical ways. In addition, the OIG has found that many federal prosecutors are less interested in prosecuting sexual abuse cases, regardless of the strength of the evidence, because the crimes are not felonies.
Federal law criminalizes all sexual relations and sexual contact between prison staff and inmates. First, the crime of sexual abuse of an inmate is only a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum sentence of 1 year, unless the staff member uses force or overt threats to sexually abuse the inmate. Moreover, the lenient federal laws are out-of-step with states laws 43 states make unforced sexual relations with inmates a felony.