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AIDS Patient Care STDS. 2003 Aug;17(8):423-30.

Rape among incarcerated men: sex, coercion and STDs.

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  • 1Department of Sociology and Corrections, Minnesota State University, Mankato, Minnesota 56001, USA.


Male inmates fear being raped most of all. Criminologists have yet to reach consensus on the prevalence of male inmate-on-inmate rape. The leading prevalence studies found that 7-12% of the responding male inmates had been raped an average of nine times. With a national jail and prison population of 2 million at mid-year 2002, the United States likely exposes tens of thousands of male inmates to rape, and consequently, to HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The release of inmates from jails and prisons-estimated at 11.5 million persons in 1998-transforms the consequences of male rape from a correctional matter into a public health crisis. The quest for dominance and control over other inmates-not sexual release-best explains male custodial rape. Prison sexual predators are typically heterosexual. Their victims, however, involuntarily assume female roles in the prison sexual system. Moreover, they experience stigmatization by inmates and staff as well as physical and mental trauma. Civil rights litigation on behalf of victims rarely succeeds and damage awards are usually small. In 2003, Congress provided $13 million for the study and prevention of rape in jails and prisons. Preventing custodial rape and treating its victims will require a sustained commitment by government.

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