Sexual Violence Against Incarcerated American Indian/Alaska Native Victims
American Indian/Alaska Native people comprise approximately 1.3% of America’s incarcerated population. Sexual violence against American Indian/Alaska Native victims can and does occur in correctional facilities, jails, prisons, and detention centers. This violence can include inmate-on-inmate and guard-on-inmate crimes of sexual violence.
In 2003, Congress passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 [PREA]. The PREA applies to all residents of detention facilities (including facilities located in Indian Country) and aims to provide information, resources, recommendations and funding in order to end sexual violence in prisons and detention facilities. Under PREA, funding for Tribal correctional facilities (through a competitive grant application process) to combat sexual violence.
The National Former Prisoner Survey (NFPS) provided the first-ever national estimates of the prevalence of sexual victimization based on reports of former state prison inmates.
The report, Sexual Victimization Reported by Former State Prisoners, 2008, was released in May 2012.
It was based on 18,526 completed interviews with former inmates under active supervision in 333 randomly selected parole offices nationwide.
Mistrust of law enforcement and healthcare systems are frequently cited as disincentives to reporting.
Previous encounters with an unwelcoming or biased healthcare provider or law enforcement officer can prevent a victim from accessing those systems. Unaddressed healthcare consequences of sexual violence can result in lifelong, adverse health issues for victims. Unreported crimes of sexual violence can allow serial rapists to prey upon communities.
Some Indian Country perpetrators abuse antiquated tribal codes and current federal practices to escape punishment (i.e., some tribal codes criminalize only penile-vaginal penetration as a sex crime; non-Indian perpetrators may not be tried in tribal courts; and there is a high declination rate of federal prosecutions for sexual violence crimes committed by non-Indians against Indians in Indian Country, etc.). Two spirit victims may find themselves ineligible for some victim services –such as shelters- because they are male or because they are the same gender as the perpetrator.
- An estimated 9.6% of former state prisoners reported one or more incidents of sexual victimization during the most recent period of incarceration in a jail, prison, and post-release community-treatment facility.
- Among all former state prisoners, 1.8% reported experiencing one or more incidents while in a local jail, 7.5% while in a state prison, and 0.1% while in a post-release community-treatment facility.
- About 5.4% of former state prisoners reported an incident involving another inmate, and 5.3% reported an incident involving facility staff.
- Among former state prisoners, the rate of inmate-on-inmate sexual victimization was at least three times higher for females (13.7%) than males (4.2%).
- Among heterosexual males, an estimated 3.5% reported being sexually victimized by another inmate. In comparison, among males who were bisexual, 34% reported being sexually victimized by another inmate.
- Among males who self-reported as homosexual or gay, 39% reported being victimized by another inmate.
- Following their release from prison, 72% of victims of inmate-on-inmate sexual victimization indicated they felt shame or humiliation, and 56% said they felt guilt. Seventy-nine percent of unwilling victims of staff sexual misconduct said they felt shame or humiliation, and 72% said they felt guilt.