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21 Crim. Just. Pol'y Rev. 3 (2010)

handle is hein.journals/cjpr21 and id is 1 raw text is: 



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Data on Inmate-on-Inmate
Sexual Assault in Prison
Valerie Jenness
Cheryl L. Maxson
University of California, Irvine
Jennifer Macy Sumner
Penn State Harrisburg
Kristy N. Matsuda
University ofMissouri-St Louis


   The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) increases opportunities for scholars to con-
   duct research in carceral settings to determine the prevalence and contours of sexual
   assault. However, researchers face many challenges, including working cooperatively
   with state agencies while maintaining independence; gaining access to prisons and
   prisoners; securing necessary institutional approvals; and collecting generalizable data
   on a highly sensitive topic, sexual assault in prisons. This article reports our responses
   to these challenges in a study of inmate-on-inmate sexual assault in California. We
   describe our research procedures and provide an assessment of interviewer effects and
   threats to the generalizability of our sample. Our experience should be instructive to
   other researchers undertaking similar efforts at a moment in time in which others have
   rightfully decried the decline of in-prison research.

   Keywords: prison research; Prison Rape Elimination Act; inmate violence; research
              methods


n 2003, President Bush affirmed bipartisan congressional efforts to define prison
  rape as a national social problem worthy of immediate legislative action and sub-
stantial federal funding when he signed into law the Prison Rape Elimination Act
(PREA). The passage of the PREA signals that prison rape in particular and sexual
assault more generally have been rendered increasingly visible as a pressing issue
for corrections officials and lawmakers, redefined as a civil rights violation for
inmates and wards, taken up by the courts as a form of cruel and unusual punish-
ment, and politicized as an issue that inextricably intersects with faith-based initia-
tives, human rights, public health, and public safety (Jenness & Smyth, 2007). In
both symbolic and material terms, it is historic legislation. Most relevant for the

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