When it comes to prisoners and guards in Florida correctional institutions, there is no such thing as consensual sex. The power dynamics effectively make it impossible for prisoners to consent to any sexual activity.
If a corrections employee and a prisoner do engage in a sexual relationship, it is automatically a crime – under both state and federal law.
Specifically, F.S. 944.35 says that sexual misconduct is any sex act between a corrections employee that doesn’t rise to the level of sexual battery (or rape, which would be a higher level felony). Sexual misconduct is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. If fellow prison employees know or suspect sexual misconduct between an inmate and employee and don’t immediately report it, it’s a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail.
Federally, U.S.C. 2241, 2243, and 2244 criminalizes all sexual relations and sexual contact between prison staff and inmates. Existing law states prison staff-prisoner sexual relations is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in prison, unless the staffer uses threats or overt force.
The U.S. Office of the Inspector General is on record as saying that penalties for inmate-prison staff sexual encounters don’t serve as an efficient deterrent, and have called for stricter punishments. (It’s well-established that most state laws – including Florida – are more severe, making unforced sexual relations between corrections workers and inmates a felony.)
Civil Litigation for Prisoner-Inmate Sexual Misconduct
In any case, it’s worth pointing out that criminal penalties aren’t the only legal action worth exploring in prison sexual misconduct cases. As our South Florida sexual abuse lawyers can explain, civil litigation is another legal avenue impacted prisoners can pursue. Continue reading