The department has received numerous allegations of sexual abuse and sexual harassment of prisoners by multiple members of McPherson Unit staff. Allegations include staff engaging in sexual intercourse and other sexual acts with prisoners; exchanging commissary money for sexual favors; and inappropriately watching prisoners while they shower or change clothes, commenting on their private parts and, at times, taking photos or video for reasons unrelated to correctional goals.
“Staff sexual abuse of prisoners violates the constitutional rights of prisoners, undermines prison safety and security and can lead to other crimes,” said the head of the Civil Rights Division, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta. “This investigation furthers the Justice Department’s goal of zero-tolerance for sexual abuse and sexual harassment in our nation’s jails and prisons. We hope to work cooperatively with the state of Arkansas in conducting our inquiry and ensuring that prisoners in its custody are not being sexually abused.”