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DOJ: Many Female Prison Guards Engage in Sexual Relations

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By Kamika Dunlap on March 17, 2010 2:05 PM

Female prison guards are more likely to be involved in sexual misconduct with inmates.

This information is part of the latest findings from a new Department of Justice study. The study shows that the prevalence of sexual assault in state and federal prisons found that 58 percent of staff perpetrators of sexual misconduct were female prison guards.

According to the Associated Press, female corrections employees in Montana caught up in a sexual relationship with an inmate and then shamed them into a "code of silence" that kept them from telling their supervisors.

In each of the five cases, Michael Murphy was the victim who allegedly seduced the female prison staff. A kiss or a love letter eventually led to sex and other illegal favors from the woman. The female officers often described Murphy as the aggressor.

But under the law, whether at the state or federal penitentiary level -- male or female prison employees -- are the violators if they have sex with inmates. Inmates cannot legally consent to sex.

The culture of silence in prisons makes it challenging for prison guards to come forward, experts say. They also cite a double standard in which female guards are treated less harshly when their transgressions come to light.

Here are a few other key points from the DOJ study:

  • An estimated 60,500 inmates (or 4.5% of all State and Federal inmates) experienced one or more incidents of sexual victimization involving other inmates or staff.
  • Nationwide, about 2.1% of inmates reported an incident involving another inmate and 2.9% reported an incident involving staff. 

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