Sexual Abuse of Prisoners

PRP is pursuing a statewide challenge to the persistent and recurring sexual abuse of women prisoners by male correction officers, and the policies that permit it to continue (Amador). The suit seeks an injunction on behalf of all women in the state prison system and damages on behalf of 15 named plaintiffs who were forcibly raped, coerced into sexual activity, or sexually harassed by male officers, many of whom had been the subject of repeated complaints with no action by prison authorities. We challenge the prison system's practice of requiring physical evidence of the officers' misconduct before they are willing to take any action on women's complaints.

In December 2007, the federal court dismissed most of the plaintiffs’ claims based on grounds we believe are plainly erroneous, such as having pursued the wrong administrative remedy before filing suit. Plaintiffs filed an interlocutory appeal, argued in the Second Circuit in June 2009. We await the appeals court’s decision. In the meantime, the damages claims of five plaintiffs are moving forward.

PRP staff handling Amador have also served as expert consultants to the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission in its formulation of proposed national standards for prison systems’ programs of preventing rape and sexual abuse. They havev also testified before a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee on prison rape and its prevention.