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Prison Rape in the US

Jan 03,2023

The Orange is the New Black had gained popularity on one of the most famous cinematic streaming services, Netflix. The show reflects upon the brutal reality of female criminals in prison who are trapped in sexual politics and power. The crime sounds not only hideous but destroys their life. The cinema depicts real-life situations that go hidden and unspoken. The reports and surveys have evidenced a large number of crimes such as sexual abuse, sexual assault, and rape in the prison. Although the government has forbidden and takes strict actions against such criminals by keeping staff facilities, departments for complaints, etc., they happen to occur. 

10% of former state prisoners who participated in a survey conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) in May 2012 reported experiencing sexual victimization at least once while jailed. 31% of the prisoners who reported sexual abuse had been abused thrice or more. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 4% of inmates in federal, state, and county prisons (and 3% of inmates in county jails) reported being sexually victimized by another inmate or facility staff at least once in the previous 12 months, or at least once since incarceration, if less time had passed. Another independent study reveals that one in five male prisoner experiences sexual assault while incarcerated. 


The prison has surfaced as a space witnessing groups, peer pressure, and power-based politics. This is popularly called inmate culture. It not only exists in the male prison but also in the female prison. The criminals do not see any background, gender, race, etc. The diverse groups stand against each other, and the power-play is dominant. The leader or the most powerful person in the prison suppresses the newcomers. 

If a citizen has committed even a small theft, then he might or might not be able to survive in the inmate culture. Such an instance happened in a Texas prison. Randy Payne, 21, was sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of sneaking into a warehouse and stealing alcohol. He passed away eight days later as he refused to pay prisoner gangs for protection, and he was killed. Most new detainees were informed that sex was the type of payment required. The gangs then jumped him. In a jail day room, he was pummeled by 20 prisoners for more than two hours. The guards asserted that they never observed anything.  

Advocates must learn about the peculiar prison culture to comprehend rape in jail. Various factors have influenced prison culture. First, prisoners bring traits, standards, and ideals from their varied backgrounds into jail. Second, the isolation and segregation of the jail population have an impact on prison culture. The design, rules, and practices of the jail itself also impact the culture. Ideology and laws combine to form culture. The ideology interprets behavior, while rules direct it. Verbal cues are the single most significant factor in the transmission of culture within prisons.

There are consensual sexual relationships. However, non-consensual relationships surface as sexual assault, sexual abuse, rape, or gang rape. This has raised several serious issues regarding the lives of the prisoners inside the jail. The establishment of relationships among the prisoners happens due to the following reasons:

Protective Pairing

Bartering and Trading Sex

To advance in the power chain

According to the accounts of inmates, rapists are despicable and socially outcasts in prison because of their behavior. They are connected to other marginalized prisoners if they have social links. Rapists consequently find themselves in a network of weak and marginal inmates. Narratives stated that rapists lack allies to defend them as a result. Well-connected, mainstream prisoners won't jeopardize their standing and relationships with other allies to defend them. Retaliation against rapists is a possibility. Inmates claim that when assaulted, rapists do not retaliate.


In a toxic-masculine society, the phrase 'boys don't cry' has demonstrated the essence of how society sees men and their emotional status. The ones who can adapt to the inmate culture continue to survive, but those who fail face the consequences. There are reports that claim that rapists follow their victims and do not engage in physical combat to obtain sex from a victim. The idea that a man cannot be raped unless he wants to be and that a man doesn't have sex unless he wants to is supported by this. According to inmates, when a victim puts up a strong fight, the rapist would just move on until he finds someone who is less resistant.


Researchers discovered that rates of sexual coercion reported by female detainees ranged from 6 to 19%, depending on the institution. The researchers categorize the incidents the ladies described. Genital contact and 'pressure techniques' were used, as well as 'force tactics' like gang rape. Women rape rates ranged from 0 to 5% of all female offenders. Therefore, other female offenders who fondled, persuaded, or otherwise coerced female inmates into oral and/or vaginal sex were responsible for the majority of sexual coercion occurrences. 


The Eighth Amendment forbids cruel and unusual punishment, which is the main section of the U.S. Constitution forbidding the abusive treatment of prisoners. When analyzing these rights, it is crucial to keep in mind that various political entities, including the courts, Congress, and numerous federal and state executive officials, must work together to ensure that they are upheld. Unfortunately, actual practice in this area is far from what is recommended by authorities.