Skip navigation and go to main content

Widespread Prison Rapes of Men, Women and Juveniles

In her book Against Our Will - Men, Women and Rape, journalist Susan Brownmiller recounts the gang rape of a Robert Martin, a pacifist who was arrested during a peace demonstration. Prison authorities arranged for the man to be placed with inmates known to be violent rapists.

Unfortunately such incidents are not uncommon in US prisons. In 1998, the San Jose Mercury reports an indictment of 5 correctional officers who conspired to have a 23 year old LA gang member raped by a 230 pound convicted murderer. Click here for full story on Media Awareness Project.

In 1995, the Indianapolis Star reported the case of Graylon Bell, who was shackled wearing only underwear and exposed to wind and rain for 3 weeks until he agreed to withdraw his demand for an investigation of his rape by another inmate. Prison officials tried to cover up the rape until confronted with evidence by the Indianapolis Star. Click here for full story on

Some years ago a man sued a prison and lost because he was put in a cell with someone who was known to be HIV positive and a violent rapist. Even after he was raped the officials would not change his cell. He contracted the virus.

The President of Stop Prisoner Rape wrote in a 1993 New York Times article: (external link)

...victims of prison rape were ... usually the youngest, the smallest, the nonviolent, the first-timers and those charged with less serious crimes... 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 assailants are almost always heterosexual by preference; thus the phrase `homosexual rape' is extremely misleading. ... The catastrophic experience of sexual violence usually extends beyond a single incident, often becoming a daily assault. Psychologists and rape counselors believe that the pent-up rage caused by these assaults can cause victims, especially if they don't receive psychological treatment, to erupt in violence once they return to their communities. Some will become rapists, seeking to `regain their manhood' through the same violent means by which they believe it was lost.

Although assaults between female inmates are few, women are far more likely to be raped by guards. The famous Amy Fisher, jailed for assault in 1992, charged that she was raped by 5 guards and coerced into sexual acts on various occasions.

Many less well-known women prisoners suffer the abuse in silence because they fear retaliation. A 1992 federal class action lawsuit against the Georgia prison system brought attention to prison staff's flagrant violations of policies regarding inmate contact.

Links to external sites:

Stop Prisoner Rape Organization Website

Human Rights Campaign report on Abuses in the State of Georgia