Former Female Prisoners Discuss Frequent Sexual Harassment By Prison Officials

According to a Senate investigation report released on Tuesday, widespread sexual abuse of female detainees still happens in federal prisons and staff accountability measures have not been able to stop the scourge of such violence.

The Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Senate determined that women were mistreated by prison employees in at least 19 of the 29 federal institutions that housed female convicts since 2012. Between 2012 and 2022, the Bureau of Prisons opened 5,415 cases claiming sexual misconduct by government employees.

Briane Moore, a former prisoner, and survivor, appeared before the subcommittee on Tuesday and described how, while incarcerated at a federal facility in West Virginia, an officer sexually assaulted her. She claimed that the prison’s captain officer would take her to off-limits sections of the facility where he would abuse her away from the view of security cameras.

Moore said, “I knew he had the authority to stop me from being relocated to a prison nearer to my family and nearer to my daughter.” “He had complete authority over me, like a captain. I was forced to follow orders.”

She claimed that she was aware of other women who had suffered consequences for reporting abuse and that she feared being put in solitary confinement if she attempted to report the officer.

The investigation revealed that inmates continue to be in danger due to the delayed pace of accountability for inmate sexual abuse and the lack of resources for internal investigators.

There are around 8,000 cases in the Bureau of Prisons Office of Internal Affairs’ backlog, some of which have been open for more than five years.

Georgia Democrat Jon Ossoff, who has focused on misconduct and abuse in prisons, is the chairman of the investigative subcommittee, which is a part of the Senate Homeland Security Committee.

“Sexual abuse of convicts is a serious violation of human and constitutional rights and cannot be condoned by the US Congress, according to Ossoff, who spoke at the session on Tuesday.

The Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution and fundamental norms of human decency are both broken by this cruel and unusual punishment.”

Ossoff questioned Colette Peters, the director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons who was appointed in July, during the hearing on why the bureau hasn’t implemented structural changes to stop abuse given the magnitude of reported and verified complaints.

Peters added, “I wish I had a nice response to that question. What I can say is that when you look at the institutions you’re highlighting and you find one that has been plagued by incidents, it’s difficult to comprehend how systemic reforms were not enacted.

Peters claimed that since being appointed, she has worked to oversee prison inspections and the handoff of previous Bureau of Prisons management. She said that it is impossible for prisoners to consent to have sex with law enforcement while they are in jail due to huge power disparities, citing stories of mistreatment by prison officials, calling it “very horrific.”

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