Sexual Misconduct Between Prisoners And Staff

Written exclusively for My Community Workplace for Government

A former California corrections officer and chaplain with the Bureau of Prisons pled guilty to sexually abusing a female inmate and then lying to federal investigators to hide his actions.

The officer worked primarily as the facility's chaplain in which he would counsel inmates suffering from "trauma, abuse and substance addiction" in "religious-based classes" and in one-one sessions. The officer admitted to sexually abusing a female inmate who had come to him for "spiritual guidance" and then gave several interviews to federal investigators in which he made false statements. He faces a minimum of up to 39 years in prison.

The Department of Justice takes all allegations of sexual misconduct by prison employees seriously and conducts thorough investigations. www.justice.gov (Feb. 23, 2022).

 

Commentary and Checklist

According to federal law, all sexual relations between staff and inmates are considered abuse. Even if a sexual act would have been considered consensual if it occurred outside of a prison, by statute, it is criminal sexual abuse when it occurs inside a prison.

The Bureau of Prisons has a written Standards of Employee Conduct that outlines what it considers boundary violations:

  • Sexual Relationships/Contact With Inmates. Employees may not allow themselves to show partiality toward, or become emotionally, physically, sexually, or financially involved with inmates, former inmates, or persons known (or who should have been known based on circumstances) to the employee as a family member or close friend of inmates or former inmates.
  • An employee may not engage in, or allow another person to engage in, sexual behavior with an inmate.
  • There is never any such thing as consensual sex between staff and inmates.
  • Penetration is not required to support a conviction for sexual contact.
  • Employees are subject to administrative action, up to and including removal, for any inappropriate contact, sexual behavior, or relationship with inmates, regardless of whether such contact constitutes a prosecutable crime.
  • Physical contact is not required to subject an employee to sanctions for misconduct of a sexual nature.
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