Abuse of Power: Sexual Abuse in the Federal Prison System


  • Claudia Lomeli-Rodriguez


There is a systemic pattern of federal prison staff using their power over inmates to coerce victims into sexually abusive situations. Inside federal institutions, staff works to protect each other from facing the consequences of their actions. On a broader scale, the Bureau of Prisons does not effectively investigate all allegations of abuse, enabling abusive individuals and institutions to remain undetected. This is a serious matter as victims are left vulnerable to sexual abuse and there is no recourse to prevent future victimizations. Prison inmates are human beings who are currently and historically been silenced and subject to abhorrent sexual abuse, their reality must be taken seriously, researched, properly investigated, and prosecuted to the fullest extent.

This paper examines how the federal prison staff constructs cultures of sexual abuse that are systemically maintained by the Bureau of Prisons. The analysis draws evidence from previous research, investigative journalism, and a Senate report all of which detail sexual abuse inside the federal prison system. Within four sections, the paper outlines the roles and cultures of sexual predators, how sexual abuse occurs, how sexually abusive environments are cultivated, and the systemic failures of the Bureau of Prisons.