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Prison sexual violence has been a prominent issue since the establishment of correctional facilities. However, the issue was dismissed due to the stigmatization of the inmate population. As a result, there were no documented policies, statutes, or laws that prohibited prison rape or imposed sanctions upon offenders. The attention towards inmates rights, specifically regarding sexual assault, began to be addressed in the media in the 1990s. Through past offender stories, legal cases, and an overall sense of awareness, the Prison Rape Elimination Act was established in 2003. This act outlawed any sexual relationships between either inmates, or inmates and correctional officers; additionally, it gave inmates the legal right to bodily autonomy. Through the past twenty years, there has been a positive shift in the ways that society views prison sexual violence. As monumental as this change has been, sexual assaults in correctional facilities still continue to occur and inmates still fear the potential of violence. Through a 2004 study conducted by Fleisher and Krienert, data from 564 inmates regarding sexual demographics was collected. Through bivariate and linear regression analyses, it was documented that inmates of not heterosexual orientation and inmates aware of correctional officer and inmate relations were more likely to experience fear of sexual assault. The future safety of inmates relies on additional research, policy changes, and more adequate officer training.

Course: SOC 475: Sociology Capstone

Publication Date


Document Type



Prison, Sexual Violence, Inmates, Prison Rape


Criminology and Criminal Justice


Presented at the Fall 2021 Virtual UNDergraduate Showcase, Grand Forks, ND, December 9, 2021.

Sexual Violence in Prisons: Inmate Subculture and Demographics of Fear