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Followup on that report about sexual assault in the Harris County jail

Last month, I blogged about a report by the Justice Department that alleged a high rate of sexual assault in one of the Harris County jail buildings. Sheriff Adrian Garcia, who testified about the report in Congress to a panel of citizen correctional experts, was sharply critical of the study’s methodology. Click the link for the details, including the report and Sheriff Garcia’s written response, which was separate from his oral testimony. Shortly after that came out, I received this followup report, sent to me by the Sheriff’s department, which added some context to the original study. The main fact to note, which wasn’t in the original or in the media accounts of it, was that “In 2011, 902 allegations of sexual victimization (10%) were substantiated (i.e., determined to have occurred upon investigation).” If you look at this report, which is about sexual assaults reported by all adult correctional facilities in the US, there’s a graph that shows that while allegations of sexual assault have increased steadily since 2005, the number of substantiated complaints has been absolutely flat. That doesn’t mean that sexual assault isn’t up in correctional facilities nationwide – we don’t know anything about the quality of the investigations that followed the allegations – but it does show that good data are hard to come by, and that there was more to the story than what was originally presented. Read it all and see for yourself, then read this Observer story about the initial report, which includes a detailed response from the Sheriff’s office.

UPDATE: Two corrections made to the text.

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