UCI News

Study tackles problem of rape in California prisons

A study by researchers at the Center for Evidence-based Corrections found that 4 percent of the 322 surveyed inmates report…

July 13, 2007

A study by researchers at the Center for Evidence-based Corrections found that 4 percent of the 322 surveyed inmates report being sexually assaulted in California prisons. Among transgendered inmates, 59 percent reported being sexually assaulted while incarcerated — 13 times more than the general prison population. In general, inmates were at greater risk of being raped if they were non-heterosexual, black, had mental health problems or were of smaller stature. The researchers found that most sexual assaults in prison were not related to gang or racial dynamics. By helping officials better understand the rate and causes of assault in prison, the study contributes to the goal of the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003, which is to reduce, prevent and respond to inmate-on-inmate sexual assault in California correctional facilities. Valerie Jenness, study author and professor of criminology, law and society, is presenting the research in a San Francisco trial for a transgendered inmate who reported being assaulted repeatedly in state prison.