Staff Sexual Misconduct Against Female Prison Inmates as Extra-Legal Punishment

Christine E. Rasche, University of North Florida

American law stipulates that punishments must be set forth in the designation of any crime, and that the punishments which are applied against a convicted person may not exceed those set forth in the law. However, a variety of situations have arisen in modern corrections which may test those legal assertions such as, for example, the attempted detention of sx offenders beyond the expiration of their sentences. Another of these potential test areas is the re-introduction within the past two decades of cross-sex supervision in female prisons. male staff in women's prisons now often exceed female staff by a ratio of two to one, or more. Interestingly, over this same two-decade period, there has been a dramatic increase in staff sexual miscondut charges by female inmates. There has also been growing concern about the impact of forced contact with even a few abusive staff on a population of already highly victimized female offenders. This paper examines staff sexual misconduct as a form of extra-legal punishment applied to female offenders, and discusses some of the legal and feminist controversies this dilemma has engendered.

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Updated 05/20/2006