Prosecuting Sexual Violence in Correctional Settings: Examining Prosecutors' Perceptions
Brenda V. Smith
American University - Washington College of Law; American University - NIC/WCL Project on Addressing Prison Rape
American University, WCL Research Paper No. 2008-50
The Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA) is the first piece of federal legislation, which expressly and exclusively addresses sexual abuse of persons in custody. Notwithstanding passage of the Act, there is clear belief, echoed by correctional leaders, that prosecutors are reluctant at best, and unwilling at worst, to prosecute cases of sexual violence in correctional settings. In order to gather information on prosecutor interest in and capacity to prosecute these cases, the National Institute of Corrections Project on Addressing Prison Rape at the Washington College of Law the (the NIC/WCL Project) collected data from state and federal prosecutors.
This article draws on that research and data to examine the perception that prosecutors are unwilling to prosecute cases of sexual violence in custody, discusses barriers to prosecution identified by prosecutors regarding investigating and prosecuting allegations of sexual abuse of persons under correctional supervision, and recommends tools to overcome those barriers.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 11
JEL Classification: K14, K40, K42, K49, Z00
Date posted: May 6, 2008