Sexual Harassment In Prison

People who commit crimes, especially the serious ones, are commonly put in jail so they can be accountable for their bad actions and learn from them. They are also being imprisoned so they will not have a chance to commit the crime again or hurt people. An article by the Inquirer.Net stated that the UK-based Institute of Criminal Policy Research reported that there are more than 10.35 million people imprisoned either as pretrial detainees or having been convicted and sentenced around the world. 

According to the report, around 2.2 million are incarcerated in the United States which is the highest prison population in the world. Ranking second is China with 1.6 million people in prison which is the highest prison population in Asia. The report also showed that there's an increase of 20% in the world prison population for the previous years. 

As expected, imprisonment is a game changer for people who commit crimes. They are expected to pay the consequences of their bad actions and learn their lessons in one way or another. However, there have been several studies proving that being in jail is also not a safe place them. There are issues of rampant physical violence, sexual assault, and other attacks that are happening in there. 

Violence Inside the Prison

Unfortunately, violence and sexual attacks are common parts of prison life. In fact, an article by the Independent reported that violent attacks and self-harm in prisons have increased by 20% last 2018. For instance, a rise of 49,565 incidents of self-harm has happened in June 2018 across England and Wales despite a reduction in the overall prison population of the countries. 

It has also been reported that every 20 minutes, there has been an average of 32,559 assault incidents happening. Of this figure, prisoner-on-prisoner attacks are about 72% while 9,485 were attacks on staff, which have grown by 27% in the past 12 months. In an interview, Shadow Justice Secretary Richard Burgon stated that there's has to be an emergency plan to address overcrowding and widespread understaffing in jails. 

Burgon added that prison violence must be seen as continuously being spiral out of control. 'It is a national scandal that there is an assault every 20 minutes in one of our prisons, that a member of prison staff is attacked every hour and that self-harm is at a new record high,' he said. Most of the time, violence in prison is the primary mechanism of the prisoners to establish their control and dominance. They do it to intimidate the people around them. 

A study entitled 'Understanding prison violence: A rapid evidence assessment' conducted by Professor James McGuire from the Liverpool University shed some light in the existing violence in prisons. One of its key findings showed that how the prisoners behave depends on the prison environment they are detained. For instance, rise to conflict and assault can happen when a prison has physically poor conditions and highly controlling regimes. 

The research also suggested that overcrowding in prisons do not directly cause violence between the inmates and the staff. In fact, it is the availability and the skills of unit staff that are crucial in maintaining order. An article by the Prison Resource added that cases of violence in prisons happen in the first few months of their stay. This continuously happens until they fit into a group where they are protected in some way. 

Crime Within Prison

Violence and other assaults are not only issues inside prisons. Research conducted by Catherine Phillips from the Edith Cowan University showed that imprisonment doesn't prevent prisoners from committing serious offenses or engaging in misconduct. The study aims to understand the prevalence of these issues, incidence, and type of prison offenses that occur, and the relationship between several prisoners and prison characteristics. 

In a period of 12 months, Phillips studied the offenses committed by the prisoners in Western Australia. This includes 1311 non-Aboriginal male prisoners with 372 offenses, 648 Aboriginal male prisoners with 1029 offenses, 125 female prisoners with 166 offenses, and 1959 male prisoners with 2014 offenses. According to an article by Phys Org, some of the minor offenses committed are breaking or damaging property, disorderly behavior, and others. 

The official databases used in the study also showed that the aggravated offenses committed by the prisoners are the use of possession of drugs or alcohol, escaping or preparing to escape, assaulting another person, and others. The research also revealed that although 55% of the prisoners had no prison offenses across the study period, there are some who viewed imprisonment as an opportunity to continue doing offenses. 

07 July 2022
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