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Spotlight Series: HIV Stigma and Discrimination
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U.S. News

Oregon Sex Abuse Among Inmates Below National Average

May 25, 2004

Around 2 percent of Oregon prison inmates are raped each year, well below the national average of 13 percent, according to a new study commissioned by the state Corrections Department. Researchers conducted random-sample surveys of 236 men and 97 women at 11 state prisons and found that 150-175 inmates -- mostly men -- are raped each year. "We're obviously concerned. In our opinion, one rape in this system is too many," said Max Williams, director of the Oregon Corrections Department.

Williams said an organization called the Prison Rape Elimination Policy Group is working to develop a zero-tolerance approach to prison rape that encourages victims to report attacks in confidence and seek medical attention and counseling. Just 10 percent of rapes per year are reported to prison managers in the 12,300-inmate corrections system, Williams noted. Humiliation, shame and fear of reprisals often prevent prisoners from speaking up, he added.

The study also examined other high-risk behaviors. Among male inmates surveyed, 7.3 percent said they had received a tattoo in the past year, and 6.2 percent engaged in sexual activity -- about a quarter of it forced. Another 2.5 percent said they used IV drugs. Among female inmates, 4.7 percent reported having engaged in sexual activity, nearly all consensual, 4.1 percent received a tattoo, and 1.1 percent said they had used IV drugs.

The newly formed High-Risk Inmate Behavior Policy Group will meet this month to discuss the survey's findings, Williams said, adding that the group aims to come up with ways to reduce the transmission of blood-borne pathogens like HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C.

Back to other news for May 25, 2004

Adapted from:
Associated Press

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
More Statistics on HIV-Positive Incarcerated Populations in the U.S.