MIAMI, FL—The U.S. Justice Department announced on Dec. 20 that a former prison guard at the Miami-based Federal Correctional Institute (FCI) had indeed pleaded guilty to sexual abuse of a ward. Ex-Miami prison employee Jack Chris Jackson, 45, engaged in illicit sexual relations with an inmate under his watch and is facing up to 15 years in prison in connection with his sex crimes.
Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida was quoted saying, “This correction officer abused his official position. This conduct is an intolerable breach of trust that not only endangers the safety of inmates but also compromises prison security. Our office will prosecute all official corruption cases to the fullest extent of the law.”
According to information provided by NBC Miami, authorities stated that Jackson confessed to engaging in both an illicit sexual relationship with a male prison inmate for over a year and illegal sex acts with additional inmates at the low-security prison, located in southwest Miami-Dade.
“We will not tolerate corrections officers engaging in this behavior with institutionalized persons… The Justice Department will vigorously prosecute individuals who abuse their position and authority in this manner,” Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, maintained.
Jackson, whom was arrested following both an FBI investigation and a probe by the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General, will be sentenced in the case on March 19, 2012. Susan Rhee Osborne, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, and Henry Leventis, a U.S. Justice Department trial attorney in the Civil Rights Department, are leading the prosecution, the department’s press release suggested.
A study published by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General Evaluation and Inspections Division in Sept. 2009 revealed that between fiscal years 2001 and 2008, the number of sexual misconduct allegations filed against Bureau of Prison (BOP) employees rose 130 percent. The number of criminal sexual abuse allegations also rose 104 percent, bringing the grand tally of sex-related inmate claims to a whopping 1,585 during that time span. The study also found that “the general increase in allegations of staff criminal sexual abuse and sexual misconduct with inmates was greater than the increase in either the BOP’s staffing level or inmate population over the same time period.”
Aggravated sexual assault allegations—those accusing prison staff of using force and/or “placing the inmate in fear of death or serious bodily injury” as to engage in unlawful sexual acts—accounted for 9.3 percent (95) of sexual abuse/misconduct claims against prison employees. Furthermore, allegations of abusive sexual contact (i.e. inappropriate touching, fondling) accounted for 35.3 percent (363) of the said claims.
The remaining 55.4 percent of claims filed during that time span (570) alleged sexual abuse—“engaging in a sexual act with an inmate by threat or force”— and alleged sexual abuse of a ward—“engaging in a sexual act with an inmate”— on the part of prison guards and staff.
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