Guards are accused in roughly half of all prison sex assaults, yet they almost never face charges for them, according to a grim new Justice Department survey of prison administrators. There were 8,000 sexual abuse reports logged between 2009 and 2011, the report says, an 11% increase from the previous two years, although that might just be a sign of better reporting. Roughly 90% of those are dismissed as "unfounded" or "unsubstantiated," Pro Publica reports.
Even among the handful of officially substantiated cases, fewer than half of the accused guards were prosecuted, and only 1% were convicted. About a third were allowed to resign before the investigation finished, leaving no record that would prevent them from getting another job. Another 22% did not lose their job at all, the Washington Times reports. Perhaps that's why assaults appear to be grossly under-reported. A survey that polled inmates directly last year estimated that more than 80,000 had been assaulted over a two-year span. "It’s a big deal for an inmate to file a report, especially if it’s against staff," said one prison activist. "They have to have some sense that something will come out of it, and there’ll be no retaliation." (Read more prison stories.)