Sex offenders in California prisons have been killed at a rate disproportionate to the percentage of sex offenders in prison in that state, an Associated Press analysis found.
Since 2007, 23 sex offenders have been killed in California prisons, 30 per cent of all inmates killed, despite sex offenders comprising just 15 per cent of the total prison population, according to the AP report based on corrections data.
Prisoners’ rights groups did not return calls for comment on the findings.
California started disclosing slain inmates’ identities in 2007, allowing analysis of the crimes committed by inmates who have been killed. In total, 78 inmates have been killed in California prisons since 2007, 23 of whom were convicted sex offenders.
Corrections officials said a 2011 policy change aimed to reduce prison overcrowding likely is to blame for the disproportionately high number of slain sex offenders, AP reported. The measure kept low-level criminals in county jail, reserving state prisons mostly for violent criminals and sex offenders, apparently increasing the likelihood of violence.
Between 2001 and 2012, 162 California prisoners were killed while in prison, or about 8 per 100,000 prisoners, which is double the national average. In 2012 to 2013, the California prison murder rate rose to about 15 per 100,000, though officials said it has fallen since then. It is not clear how many of those killed were sex offenders.
Around 10 years ago, California instituted special housing units for sensitive prisoners, such as sex offenders and prisoners trying to escape gang membership – prisoners who could face increased danger in the general prison population. Records show that these units haven’t reduced violence against sex offenders, the AP reported.
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