Houston County Jails Rank Fourth in Inmate-On-Inmate Sexual Victimization

An older article follows below about the Bureau of Justice Statistics on sexual abuse in jails and the responses to it by the former Sheriff Andy Hughes and the Jail Commander Keith Reed:

From the looks of it, this is a very disturbing finding. Of the 286 jails that were surveyed, Houston County Jail ranks fourth with an estimated four percent of its inmate population being sexually victimized.

“It’s hard to put a lot of stock in these numbers here reported by inmates since we have no actual knowledge of it,” said Sheriff Andy Hughes.

Sheriff Andy Hughes adamantly denies the findings by the Bureau of Justice Statistics which says four percent of Houston County Jail inmates been have sexually victimized by other inmates while in custody.

According to the study, on average 1.5 percent of male prisoners are involved in inmate on inmate sexual activity while in jail. Houston County is almost three times the average, something jail Commander Keith Reed says does not add up.

“There were 528 inmates in the facility on the day of this survey. Based on their report of a four percent, that means 21 of those 528 inmates alleged to be involved in sex acts in the Houston County Jail. Of those 21, only one actually reported to us that they were a crime victim,” said Jail Commander Keith Reed.

Reed says having only one report of sexual assault during the 2008-2009 survey period proves these cases are rare, but Reed did admit jail staff cannot be everywhere.

“It is difficult to prevent because these types of acts occur in inmates cells. The cells are not covered by cameras, we do not have a camera in the inmates cell, so if the inmate does not report the event or the staff does not discover the event while making a security round, then that event is undocumented, then we can’t do anything about undocumented or unreported events,” said Reed.

This survey was conducted anonymously by the Bureau of Justice Statistics through a questionnaire on a touch screen computer. Sheriff Hughes says the jail volunteered for the survey but says the report has too many variables and he questions the integrity of the inmates.

Sheriff Hughes says he does not plan to do anything differently to prevent this activity in the jail. The one report of sexual assault was investigated and found to be false by a grand jury. Also, the definition of sexual victimization can be anything from touching to rape.

Posted: Fri 6:06 PM, Aug 27, 2010

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Contrary to what the former Sheriff and the jail commander stated, there is no way for an inmate to contact PREA or to make known that a sexual offence has occurred, because the mechanisms are not in place at the jail in accordance with PREA Laws for an inmate to safely notify them of these issues and that inmates know incidents go unreported or not taken seriously by jail staff.

  • The Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA) is the first United States federal law passed dealing with the sexual assault of prisoners. The bill was signed into law on September 4, 2003.

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PREA directed the attorney general to promulgate standards for all confinement facilities including, but not limited to, local jails, police lockups, and juvenile facilities. See 42 U.S.C. § 15609(7). DOJ has promulgated standards for prisons and jails (28 C.F.R. §§ 115.11 – 115.93), lockups (28 C.F.R. §§ 115.111 – 115.193), residential community confinement facilities (28 C.F.R. §§ 115.211 – 115.293), and juvenile facilities (28 C.F.R. §§ 115.311 – 115.393).

Additionally, on May 17, 2012, the President directed “all agencies with federal confinement facilities that are not already subject to the Department of Justice’s final rule” to develop rules or procedures that comply with PREA.

Last updated February 7, 2013. Copied from wtvy.com

So the question remains, why is Houston County Jail still not compliant with PREA?

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