Florida lags in complying with national standards on prison rape

Epidemic. That’s a good word to describe Florida when it comes to sexual crimes perpetrated on inmates behind bars.

And although we’ve been concentrating on Jacksonville’s jail, the statewide prison system is perhaps more dangerous for inmates

 It has, for example, the dubious distinction of tying with Texas for having the most prisons with high rates of staff sexual misconduct and inmate-on-inmate sexual abuse, according to a recent report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Two men’s prisons in Florida — Santa Rosa Correctional Institution and Apalachee Correctional Institution — were near the top of the bureau’s national list for high rates of inmate sexual abuse by staff.

Apalachee also topped the list of facilities nationwide with the worst inmate-on-inmate sexual assault, as did the Northwest Florida Reception Center in Chipley.

A single all-female facility in Florida, the Broward Correctional Institution, made the list for high levels of staff-on-inmate sexual assaults.

“The state has an appalling record,” says Jesse Lerner-Kinglake, communication director of Just Detention International, a nonprofit fighting prison sexual abuse worldwide. “The word ‘alarming’ doesn’t do justice for what’s happening there.”

Despite Florida’s horrific ranking, Gov. Rick Scott has — for the second year in a row — refused to comply with national standards regarding jailhouse rape. In fact, as of yesterday, the deadline for federal compliance, the U.S. Department of Justice hadn’t heard a peep from Scott.

This state is one of a handful, including Texas, that have failed to comply with federal codes set in place in 2012 to battle sexual assault in prisons. Now all face reductions in prison-related federal grant dollars because of their refusal.

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