Exposure to Prison Sexual Assault among Incarcerated Black Men

Rowell-Cunsolo, Tawandra; Harrison, Roderick; Haile, Rahwa
March 2014
Journal of African American Studies;Mar2014, Vol. 18 Issue 1, p54
Academic Journal
Despite the enactment of the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA), human rights abuses involving sexual assaults abound in US prisons. Exposure to these assaults may contribute to posttraumatic stress and antisocial behavior among incarcerated Black men, because their rates of incarceration are disproportionately high. However, research on exposure to sexual assault in US prisons is limited. An anonymous self-report questionnaire on prison sexual assault exposure was administered to 134 randomly selected incarcerated Black men. Forty-three percent reported hearing sexual assaults occurring within the facility and 16 % visually witnessed them. Sexual orientation was associated with witnessing sexual assault ( χ2 = 3.68, df = 1, p < 0.05). Findings from this study suggest that sexual assaults may be common in US prisons despite the PREA directive to eliminate such incidents. Conventional violence prevention programs and interventions may not meet the unique needs of prison populations given the high exposure to sexually coercive behaviors reported.


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