Breaking the Code of Silence: Correctional Officers’ Handbook on Identifying and Addressing Sexual Misconduct with Offenders

Source: Brenda V. Smith and Jaime M. Yarussi, National Institute of Corrections, American University Washington College of Law Project on Addressing Prison Rape

This handbook is based on training we have conducted on staff sexual misconduct over the past eight years, and the feedback and comments that we have received from correctional professionals who have attended those trainings and implemented changes in their system to prevent sexual abuse of individuals under custodial supervision.

This publication is a critical step in reaching out to rank-and-file correctional staff in order to address the code of silence that surrounds staff sexual misconduct with offenders. We hope that it will deepen the dialogue between line staff, administrators, community leaders, and criminal justice advocates about strategies to eliminate staff sexual misconduct with individuals under custodial supervision.

This handbook aims to educate correctional professionals at all levels on:
• why correctional staff and administrators need to be concerned about staff sexual misconduct with offenders
• how agency culture and the workplace environment influence staff sexual misconduct
• the tools that will help identify and address staff sexual misconduct
• the consequences of staff sexual misconduct with offenders
• the investigative process that should follow an allegation of staff sexual misconduct
• how correctional staff members can keep the workplace safe

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