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Will Jerry Sandusky Have To Worry About Rape In Prison?

It's not the lightest subject matter in the world, but in the wake of Jerry Sandusky's prison sentence, many vindictive gawkers are claiming that "he'll get his" in prison. Sidestepping the issue of whether the Penn State coach deserves to get what he gave, it brings up an interesting question that has served as a plot device and punchline in many facets of American entertainment:

Is rape in prison as prevelant as it's made out to be? 

Yeah, pretty much. According to a 2006 study, there were 2.4 million Americans in prisons, jails, and detention centers, or a little under 1% of the population. 

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According to Just Detention International, a non-profit set up to end sexual abuse among incarcerated individuals, over 200,000 people are sexually abused in prison every year. That's a ratio of 1 in 12. It's hard to like those odds if you're serving hard time. Of course, certain people are bigger targets than others. The presentation in TV and movies that gays and child molesters are more likely targets is largely true, and female prisoners constitute a disproportionately high number of the cases. 

Not necessarily depicted in the media is the fact that up to a quarter of the cases of sexual abuse come at the hands of prison security and officials, rather than other inmates. The fact that the guards are committing so many of the acts, coupled with the fact that no one wants to be too quick to reveal to the general population that they've been raped leads to drastic underreporting of the assaults. 

Sandusky, who for obvious reasons would be a high-risk target, will be held in a special section for sex offenders and the mentally disabled until he's sentenced later this year. While it would seem unlikely and remiss that he get placed in general population at any point, once he becomes a ward of the facility, he's pretty much at the prison officials' discretion, and stranger things have happened. 

What's the big takeaway? Prison sucks, and the threat of rape is very real. So...stay out of jail. 

That's pretty much the only way to ensure you don't get raped in prison. Kinda sucks, right? 

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