Sexual Victimization Behind Bars of Local, National Facilities Studied

A study released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics charts instances of alleged sexual victimization in prisons and jails across the country, including facilities in this area.

Three prison facilities in Huntsville -- the Byrd Unit, the Holliday Transfer Facility and the Huntsville Unit -- and the Washington County Jail were among those that had inmates surveyed between February 2011 and May 2012, according to the survey, which was released last month.

With the local prison facilities, each had less than three percent of respondents say they had experienced sexual victimization within the last 12 months or since their admission if less than 12 months. The Holliday facility had a 2.8 percent rate, the Byrd Unit a 1.8 percent rate, and the Huntsville Unit an 0.8 percent rate.

The Washington County Jail had 2.7 percent of responding inmates say they had experienced sexual victimization.

All four are below the national average of 4.0 percent of state and federal prison inmates and 3.2 percent of jail inmates, a rate the bureau notes was consistent with previous studies. In all, more than 92,000 inmates were surveyed for this study.

This comes as the Clements Unit in Beaumont is noted as having one of the highest sexual victimization rates, including the highest in the nation when it comes to inmates reporting they had been pressured into some sort of sexual contact with staff.

As reported by the Amarillo Globe-News Saturday and subsequently by the Associated Press, 8.1 percent of surveyed inmates at Clements alleged there had been sexual victimization by physical force, and 8.7 percent said there had been sexual victimization by pressure.

Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesperson Jason Clark questioned the report.

“Many allegations of sexual assault investigated by the Office of Inspector General, even if they accurately reflect the offender’s perceptions, simply do not include the basic legal elements of sexual assault, and could reflect offender attitudes toward other offensive behavior or legitimate security precautions such as strip searches,” Clark told the Globe-News.

Overall, of Clements inmates surveyed, 11.9 percent reported sexual victimization within the last 12 months.

Less than one percent of surveyed inmates who were at the Byrd, Holliday and Huntsville facilities said they were physically forced into sexual conduct by staff. At Holliday, 1.8 percent said they experienced sexual victimization by pressure. Less than one percent at Byrd and Huntsville said the same. At the Washington County Jail, there was 0.0 percent of reported sexual victimization by staff by physical force or pressure.

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