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DOJ: Missouri is a National Leader in Prison Rape

Categories: Crime

prison_bars_william_warby.JPG
William Warby/Flickr
The Department of Justice says that in 2011, Missouri led the nation in prison rape.

The study, which was released last month, looked at sexual misconduct incidents in 700 state and federal prisons beginning in 2009 and going through 2011. It accounted for staff-on-inmate sexual misconduct, as well as inmate-on-inmate incidents.

The study also differentiated between "nonconsensual sexual acts" and "abusive sexual conduct" between inmates, and "sexual misconduct" and "sexual harassment" between staff and inmates. See below for how the sex crimes are defined:

sexvictims.JPG
Department of Justice

Missouri is in the top half of prison populations in the nation with around 31,000 inmates, so being one of the states with the most prison rapes shouldn't come as much of a surprise. Unfortunately, however, Missouri is near the top of substantiated rape and sexual misconduct claims and the numbers appear to be on the rise.

In 2009, Missouri had the thirteenth-highest prison population with about 30,519 inmates. That year, there were 56 reported inmate-on-inmate rape allegations and seven were found to be substantiated. Only Ohio had more substantiated rape claims with ten -- the Buckeye State also had about 18,000 more inmates behind bars.

Staff-on-inmate sexual misconduct was higher, with twelve substantiated claims and 128 allegations. Only three states had more: North Carolina with 23, Washington with 17, and Virginia with 13. Indiana, New York, and Vermont also had twelve each.

In 2010, Missouri had the twelfth-highest prison population -- about 30,577 inmates. That year, there were five substantiated inmate-on-inmate rape claims out of 60 allegations. Only Georgia and Michigan had more with six. Both of those states had far bigger prison populations with 47,561 and 44,113, respectively.

Staff-on-inmate sexual misconduct appears to have decreased in 2010. That year, there was only one substantiated claim. However, there were 74 allegations -- enough for sixth highest out of all states.

See also: Jeff Smith Reveals Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Prison Sex But Were Afraid to Ask

In 2011, Missouri topped all states in prison rape. Out of 74 inmate-on-inmate allegations, fourteen were found to be substantiated. Texas, with a prison population nearly fives times as large as Missouri's with 141,000 inmates, had eight substantiated rape claims.

Substantiated staff-on-inmate sexual misconduct claims fared a little better, but still disproportionate when the state's prison population is taken into account. With the twelfth-highest prison population, Missouri had the ninth-most staff-on-inmate allegations with six substantiated claims.

Accusations, however, were much higher than the year before with 117 -- fifth-highest in the country.

The numbers of sexual misconduct allegations are not conclusive. Many rapes go unreported, either out of fear, shame, or both. Also, the study only looked at a sampling of local county jails, which don't do the best job of reporting sexual misconduct incidents.

"Public jail administrators were less likely than prison administrators to report sexual victimization based on the definitions provided," the DOJ study says.

Not every local jail is surveyed and of those that are, several refuse to respond to the DOJ survey. For example, in 2010, of the 700 local jail jurisdictions asked to complete the survey, eight refused to respond. Two of those jurisdictions were in Missouri, including the Ray County Sheriff's Office in Henrietta and the St. Louis Department of Public Safety.

See also: Inmates Like Michael Devlin On Bottom of Prison Pecking Order

As a result, the DOJ study has no record of two incidents involving members of local jail staff who had sexually assaulted inmates.

In 2010, Franklin County jailer Damon Berti was convicted of having sex with a female inmate. Although the inmate said she was forced into the act, Berti said the sex was consensual and a judge dropped the rape charge.

Berti ended up getting getting 120 days behind bars and five years probation, according to the Missourian newspaper.

The following year, Ryan Cole, a jailer in Miller County, had sex with three female inmates. At least one alleged she was assaulted and the act was not consensual.
Cole was fired and sentenced to five years of probation, reported KRCG.

Daily RFT reached out to the Missouri Department of Corrections for comment, but have yet to hear back. We'll update when we do.

Follow Ray Downs on Twitter:

E-mail him at Ray.Downs@RiverfrontTimes.com.

My Voice Nation Help
31 comments
Michelle Marty Dockler
Michelle Marty Dockler

Actually, Vandalia women's prison was best known for rape and other abuse by COs. So, unfortunately, guards aren't as innocent as you all think.

Jesda Ulati
Jesda Ulati

I am inclined to agree. I think the guards may turn a blind eye to violence but I doubt they perpetrate most of it themselves, especially the sexual assaults.

Jesda Ulati
Jesda Ulati

Well that's fucked up. With the tendency for innocent or non-violent people to end up behind bars, prison violence is a big problem.

Doug Bishop
Doug Bishop

I like how the author mentions our prison rape competitor Ohio is the Buckeye state, but fails to mention Missouri is the Show-me state.

John Evans
John Evans

Well, at least we're number one for something.

Brian Ruby
Brian Ruby

Hooray! We're number #1! We're number #1!

Ben Mansfield
Ben Mansfield

Same people said most of the assaults are done by guards Which is complete bs... Inmates file bogus claims on the officers constantly.... and can die if they report rape by other inmates... Not sure how much stock I put in anything they say

Drum Mer M JZ
Drum Mer M JZ

What do u think happens in there? Drum circles & hippie protests?

Bob Stclair
Bob Stclair

Start giving them beno ( anti gas meds ) . Because you know farts smell like sex to them fags ! An salt peter ! No boner while in prison ! An if you rape a man or a woman ......rape is rape ! ==== More jail time for the turd punchers ! So in to the hole you go . An not the stinky hairy one with bits of corn !

Daren Cortez
Daren Cortez

Prison rape in Missouri. Sounds like a song title.

Twana Wangler
Twana Wangler

If the DOC would hold the offenders accountable for their actions, it would drop. Missouri is an offender friendly state and coddle them instead of rehabilitating them. All crimes committed while incarcerated should be prosecuted, NOT roll them to another camp!

Jeff Duerst
Jeff Duerst

Now that's a stat schools should tell kids about

Allen Ward
Allen Ward

On the plus side, at least the rapist are behind bars.

JamesMadison
JamesMadison topcommenter

The prisons are full of inmates that claim they are innocent. While I'm sure some guards abuse some inmates, it must be far more likely that inmate-on-inmate crime is the real issue.

Perhaps if this news were made more public, some kids would not start down the path of living a life of crime.

JamesMadison
JamesMadison topcommenter

I really do not know how much rehab works for most inmates. It is worth a try, but for those with life sentences, it may be wasted therapy. 


Where this is a problem, have fewer time out of their cell and with fewer other inmates. For the crimes committed within a cell, send the offender to solitary. Exercise time should be forced marches, not mingling, and definitely not TV and weight lifting.

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