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Word Count: 650
For too long we have turned away from the rape crisis in our correction institutions which now hold 13 million men and boys In most of them rape is an entrenched tradition considered by prisoners a legitimate way to prove their manhood and to satisfy sexual needs and the brutal desire for power says Colonel Walter Pence the chief of security at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola The exact number of sexually assaulted prisoners is unknown but an estimate based on our textbook of two decades of surveys is that more than 290000 males are sexually assaulted behind bars every year By comparison the Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that there are 135000 rapes of women a year nationwide though many groups believe the number is higher Once victimized a prisoner is marked as a continual target for sexual attack and is repeatedly subjected to gang rapes or must trade submission to one or more men in exchange for protection from the rest Very few of these rapes are ever reported to administrators much less prosecuted Forty years ago James Dunn was raped while in jail on a charge for which he was serving three years Victims of prison rape were like James usually the youngest the smallest the nonviolent the first-timers and those charged with less serious crimes If a prisoner is middle-class not street-wise not affiliated with a gang not part of the racial or ethnic group that dominates his institution or held in a big city jail he is likely to be a target The victims are usually heterosexuals who are forced into a passive sexual role though the relatively few known homosexuals are perhaps three times as likely to be raped The attackers are almost always heterosexual by preference thus the phrase homosexual rape is extremely misleading Sexual attack among female prisoners is thought to be much rarer women are however far more likely to be sexually abused by guards
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