Sexual Abuse of Women in United States Prisons: A Modern Corollary of Slavery

Brenda V. Smith, American University Washington College of Law


This paper addresses the sexual abuse of women in custody as a more contemporary manifestation of slavery and discusses the congruencies and the differences that exist between the sexual abuse of women in custody and slavery. The paper charts the history of the parallel abolition and prison reform movements and examines their divergent paths arguing that the women's movement abandonment of prison advocacy has harmed the women in prison movement. The article concludes that the embrace of human rights norms has assisted in providing new avenues for redressing the sexual abuse of women in custody.