Saturday, April 19, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Justice Dept.: High rate of sex assaults in Philly jails

Inmates at the Riverside Correctional Facility in Philadelphia. The jail has one of the highest rates of inmate-on-inmate sexual victimization, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. (File photo)
Inmates at the Riverside Correctional Facility in Philadelphia. The jail has one of the highest rates of inmate-on-inmate sexual victimization, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. (File photo)
Story Highlights
  • Two Philadelphia jails have some of the highest rates of sexual assault in the country.
  • Inmates report the highest rates of sexual victimization by jail staff at the Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center.
  • The Riverside Correctional Facility has one of the highest rates of inmate-on-inmate sexual contact.

Two Philadelphia jails have some of the highest rates in the country of inmates who report being sexually assaulted while incarcerated, according to new Justice Department data.

A new report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics identifies the Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center as one of the facilities where inmates report the highest rates of sexual victimization by jail staff. And the city’s Riverside Correctional Facility, which is for female prisoners, is one of the institutions with the highest rates of inmate-on-inmate sexual contact.

At Riverside, 6.7 percent of inmates reported inmate-on-inmate sexual victimization, while 6.3 percent of PICC inmates reported staff sexual misconduct. Those numbers are the second- and fourth-highest in the country, respectively, for jail inmates, and well above the national averages of 1.6 percent for inmate sexual misconduct and 1.8 percent for staff misconduct.

BJS identified 21 correctional facilities, including Riverside, as having high rates of inmate-on-inmate victimization and 24 facilities, including PICC, as having high staff misconduct rates.

In total, 20 correctional institutions in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including three Philadelphia jails, reported higher-than-average rates of sexual misconduct by inmates or staff.

Shawn Hawes, a spokeswoman for the Philadelphia Prison System, said she hadn’t read the BJS report so she couldn’t comment specifically on its findings.

The prison system investigates and reports any allegations of sexual assault, she said, and is in the process of installing more video cameras at PICC as a preventative measure.

BJS says prison and jail inmates who were female, white or had college degrees reported the highest rates of inmate-on-inmate victimization. Higher rates of staff sexual misconduct were reported by men in jails and blacks in both prisons and jails.

(Jails are county-run and typically house inmates who are awaiting sentencing or serving relatively short terms; prisons house those incarcerated for longer periods and are run by state or federal authorities.)

Inmates who were incarcerated for violent sexual offenses, had a mental illness, had experienced a sexual assault before entering the facility, or identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual also reported higher rates of sexual victimization.

Several Pennsylvania and New Jersey prisons reported rates of sexual victimization above than the national averages of 2 percent for inmate-on-inmate contact and 2.4 percent for staff contact.

Those facilities are:

  • Mountainview Youth Correctional Facility (N.J.), where 3.1 percent of inmates reported sexual contact with staff
  • South Woods State Prison (N.J.), where 3.5 percent reported inmate-on-inmate contact
  • Cambridge Springs State Correctional Institution (Pa.), where 3.7 percent reported inmate-on-inmate contact
  • Muncy State Correctional Institution (Pa.), where 8.9 percent reported inmate-on-inmate contact and 3.6 percent reported staff contact
  • Pine Grove State Correctional Institution (Pa.), where 6.3 percent reported staff contact
  • Somerset State Correctional Institution (Pa.), where 2.9 percent reported inmate-on-inmate contact

County-run jails in Pennsylvania and New Jersey reporting higher rates of victimization than the averages of 1.6 percent for inmate contact and 1.8 percent for staff contact include:

  • Mercer County Correctional Center (N.J.), where 4.1 percent reported inmate contact and 5.1 percent reported staff contact
  • Passaic County Jail (N.J.), where 2.6 percent reported staff contact
  • Allegheny County Jail (Pa.), where 2 percent reported inmate contact
  • Blair County Prison (Pa.), where 3.5 percent reported inmate contact
  • Fayette County Prison, where 2.6 percent reported inmate contact and 3.9 percent reported staff contact
  • Indiana County Jail, where 3.9 percent reported inmate contact
  • Luzerne County Correctional Facility, where 2.4 percent reported inmate contact
  • Montgomery County Prison Correctional Facility, where 2.6 percent reported staff contact
  • Philadelphia’s Curran Fromhold Correctional Facility, where 3.4 percent reported staff contact
  • Philadelphia’s Industrial Correctional Center, where 3.5 percent reported inmate contact and 6.3 percent reported staff contact
  • Philadelphia's Riverside Correctional Facility, where 6.7 percent reported inmate contact and 3.7 percent reported staff contact
  • Schuylkill County Prison, where 2.7 percent reported staff contact
  • Westmoreland County Prison, where 2.1 percent reported inmate contact and 2.2 percent reported staff contact
  • York County Prison, where 3.5 percent reported inmate contact

In contrast, Philadelphia’s Alternative and Special Detention Facility and Federal Detention Center both reported below-average victimization rates for both inmate and staff misconduct.


Contact Emily Babay at 215-854-2153 or ebabay@philly.com. Follow @emilybabay on Twitter.

Contact the Breaking News Desk at 215-854-2443; BreakingNewsDesk@philly.com. Follow @phillynews on Twitter.

Emily Babay Philly.com staff
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