Certain prisoners are targeted for sexual assault the moment they enter a penal facility: their age, looks, sexual orientation, and other characteristics mark them as candidates for abuse. A clear example is that of Dee Farmer, a young preoperative transsexual with "overtly feminine characteristics" who was placed in regular housing in a maximum-security federal prison.
Rather, a broad range of factors are correlated with increased vulnerability to rape, some related to perceived femininity, some entirely unrelated. Chonco, "Sexual Assaults among Male Inmates," , vol.
Specifically, prisoners fitting any part of the following description are more likely to be targeted: young, small in size, physically weak, white, gay, first offender, possessing "feminine" characteristics such as long hair or a high voice; being unassertive, unaggressive, shy, intellectual, not street-smart, or "passive"; or having been convicted of a sexual offense against a minor.
Prisoners with any one of these characteristics typically face an increased risk of sexual abuse, while prisoners with several overlapping characteristics are much more likely than other prisoners to be targeted for abuse.
The characteristics of prison rapists are somewhat less clear and predictable, but certain patterns can nonetheless be discerned.
First, although some older inmates commit rape, the perpetrators also tend to be young, if not always as young as their victims--generally well under thirty-five years old.
They are frequently larger or stronger than their victims, and are generally more assertive, physically aggressive, and more at home in the prison environment. They have typically been convicted of more violent crimes than their victims.
The myth of the "homosexual predator" is groundless.
Perpetrators of rape typically view themselves as heterosexual and, outside of the prison environment, prefer to engage in heterosexual activity.
Although gay inmates are much more likely than other inmates to be victimized in prison, they are not likely to be perpetrators of sexual abuse.