Legal Responses to Sexual Violence in Custody: Protections Provided by Vulnerable Persons Statutes

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This publication discusses the intersection between groups traditionally recognized as vulnerable persons under the law, and offenders in federal, state, and local custodial settings. State and federal statutes define certain persons as “vulnerable” due to age or mental or physical handicaps, and provide enhanced penalties to persons who exploit those persons physically, emotionally, financially, and sexually. Under current law and sentencing guidelines, offenders who qualify as vulnerable persons do not receive the same level of protection in every state. This lack of protection creates a separate and particularly at-risk category of persons: vulnerable offenders.


NIC/WCL Project on Addressing Prison Rape