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Preventing and Addressing Sexual Abuse in Tribal Detention Facilities

January 4, 2012 Comments off
Preventing and Addressing Sexual Abuse in Tribal Detention Facilities (PDF)
Source:  American Probation and Parole Association

The issue of corrections-based sexual assault is complex and has implications reaching far beyond correctional institutions. In developing the law, Congress found that “prison rape endangers the public safety by making brutalized inmates more likely to commit crimes when they are released—as 600,000 inmates are each year… [and that] victims of prison rape suffer severe physical and psychological effects that hinder their ability to integrate into the community and maintain stable employment upon their release from prison.”

This bulletin seeks to provide information to tribal detention professionals, as well as tribal leaders, on the key policy and practice issues for the prevention, reduction, detection, and punishment of sexual abuse perpetrated on those under correctional supervision in Indian Country, including in jails, juvenile detention facilities, and police lock-ups.

Tribal detention professionals face a number of particular challenges: working with a range of criminal defendants/inmates, including violent and nonviolent, adults and juveniles, and men and women; working in facilities that are often underfunded, understaffed and overpopulated; balancing the equally important responsibilities of holding inmates accountable for their crimes and providing needed programs and services to promote their rehabilitation; managing potentially dangerous inmates in settings originally designed for individuals charged or convicted of lower-level offenses; and, negotiating complex jurisdictional issues unique to Indian Country criminal justice systems. Without a doubt, working in tribal corrections is a highly stressful profession in which the stakes are incredibly high—for officers, for inmates, and for the community alike.

While at first glance it may appear that policy and practice recommendations for preventing and addressing sexual violence add to an already overwhelming set of tasks that tribal corrections professionals are required to accomplish, the purpose of this bulletin is rather to demonstrate how tribal detention staff can build on existing efforts to protect the safety of inmates and facilities through the enhancement of policies and procedures for the prevention of and response to sexual abuse. Moreover, this bulletin will highlight key resources that have been designed to assist tribal detention professionals in addressing this critical issue.

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