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9:40am — Report: Torrance Jail Leads Nation in Rape

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Study finds a 13.4 percent rate of sexual victimization at lockup compared to 3.2 percent nationally.

The Torrance County Detention Facility leads in the nation in sexual victimization of inmates, according to the “Report on Rape in Jails in the U.S.” that was released on Dec. 29, based on public hearings last year and documents reviewed by the Review Panel on Prison Rape, the Mountain View Telegraph reported in today’s editions.

The report was prompted by a special report last June by the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics that found that the Torrance County jail in Estancia recorded the nation’s highest overall rate of sexual victimization of inmates — 13.4 percent, compared to a national average of 3.2 percent, the Telegraph reported.

“The Torrance County facility is one of the faciities with the highest rate of sexual victimization according to their inmates,” Steven McFarland, chairman of the Review Panel on Prison Rape, told the Telegraph.

At the time of the survey, there were 241 inmates at the Torrance County jail and 185 inmates were sampled, and of those, 67 inmates responded, while four inmates were given a control (placebo) survey, McFarland said.

Despite the relatively low number of inmates surveyed, “it still puts that jail ahead of any other jail in the country,” McFarland told the Telegraph.

According to the report released last month, the Bureau of Justice Statistics “calculated with 95 percent confidence that the true prevalence of sexual victimization in Torrance County Detention Facility within six months of the survey date was between 5.4 percent and 21.4 percent of its inmates,” the Telegraph reported.

Some 53 of the facilities surveyed showed statistically similar results to those at the Torrance County jail, the report said.

The review panel noted that the jail “responded constructively” to the survey, the paper reported.

“Our efforts to enhance overall safety at the facility for staff and inmates, as noted in the report, are ongoing,” Ivonne Riley, quality assurance manager at the jail told the Telegraph in an e-mail, adding that “many of the ‘best practices’ highlighted in the report have been and are in practice.”

The privately run jail, which opened in 1990 as a 286-bed facility and expanded to 910 beds in 1997, has an average daily population of 834 inmates, according to the New Mexico Corrections Department’s Web site.

Inmates from the state correctional system, the U.S. Marshals Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Torrance County are currently housed at the facility.