LGBT inmates report sexual victimization at much higher percentages

Published: May 20, 2013

Amid the unfolding jail scandal in Baltimore right now, there are two things relevant to the gay community that I want to bring up.

I’m not sure if there are any connections between the two, or if one affects the other. But viewed together, they do present some interesting questions.

First: Non-heterosexual inmates in jails and prisons across the country reported a far greater degree of sexual victimization in the last two years than their straight counterparts, according to a study released by the U.S. Department of Justice last week.

Second: The state’s powerful Black Guerrilla Family prison gang — which apparently held an astounding degree of power and control at the Baltimore City Detention Center until the FBI moved in recently — has a stated anti-gay stance.

The national statistics play out like this: Among the heterosexual population, 1.2 percent of state and federal prison inmates and 1.2 percent of jail inmates reported sexual victimization by another inmate.

Among those who reported their orientation as gay, lesbian, bisexual or "other" — which I assume includes the transgender community — 12.2 percent of prison inmates and 8.5 percent of jail inmates reported victimization by another inmate.

In prisons, that means LGBT inmates are victimized at 10 times the rate of straight inmates. In jails, that means LGBT inmates are victimized at seven times the rate of straight inmates.

With guards as the aggressors, 5.4 percent of LGBT prisoners reported victimization, compared to 2.1 percent of straight prisoners. Among jail inmates, 4.3 percent of LGBT inmates reported victimization by staff, compared to 1.7 percent of straight inmates.

Non-heterosexual inmates reported higher levels of victimization than heterosexual inmates in every demographic subgroup, according to the study.

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