In addition, inmates abuse one another and a few members of the prison staff physically abuse prisoners. However, the most common kind of violence committed on inmates in many US penal facilities is sexual assault. This assault is perpetrated on males, females and even illegal immigrants housed in prison facilities all over the country. In order for us to understand how this abuse occurs, we need to take a close look at the US prison systems, penal laws and statutes, evaluate the problem, and analyze the efficiency of measures taken by the government to curb sexual assaults inside US prisons.
Many ordinary individuals have heard detailed stories in the media especially the newspapers about prisoners being beaten by guards with batons, fired at unnecessarily with guns or raped and abused by prison officers. (World Report 2000) Authorities have found out that the penal facilities in almost every state in America is replete with such abuse. A federal court for instance, came to a conclusion that the rate and number of 1"wholly unnecessary physical aggression" committed by guards in Texas prison facilities mirrored a "culture of sadistic and malicious violence" exhibited in those facilities. 2Violence and other forms of harassment perpetrated by prisoners against each other are even more of an everyday occurrence. Authorities and independent groups estimated that more than 70 percent of prison inmates are assaulted and abused by their fellow inmates every year. Almost yearly, the incidences of violence and abuse in American prisons continue to escalate. Near the turn of the century for instance in 1998, 79 prisoners were killed and thousands more suffered sever injuries (The Corrections Yearbook 1998). The previous year of 1997, 10 percent of inmates across the states and 3 percent of inmates housed in federal facilities were reported severely injured in scuffles and brawls since they have entered prisons. 3The New York state prisons systems have recognized the prevalence of this problem and stated that the "extraordinary amount of crime committed in state prisons annually merely shifts the locus of criminal activity away from neighborhoods to correctional facilities" For the experts and authorities, street gangs have merely moved territories from the streets into the penal facilities.
Amidst this prevalence of abuse and the encroachment of gangs in the statewide penal institutions, sexual assault and sexual abuse emerge at the center of the problem. What is worse, though, males are the most common victims of sexual abuse. Human Rights Watch an organization also in the center of the issue, reported that sexual assault on males occurs in prisons around the country and added that rape in prison can be unimaginably brutal, as the gang attacks become an ordinary occurrence. 4Victims of this assault are usually left for dead, severely beaten, bloody and in some cases, killed. Many of these individuals who experienced grave threats and had knives aimed at their throats, believed that they had no alternative except to engage in sexual acts. This form of coercion is said to be more common than gang rape and believed to be easily ignored by the authorities as compared to gang rape. However, many sexual