Lawyer meeting his client in prison

4 Types Of Prisoner Abuse And How To Resolve Them

Being incarcerated means you’ve been sent to prison for a crime that you may have committed. In prison, life is different from what people would see in their everyday lives outside. Prisoners do, however, face some of the same dangers that everyone could encounter elsewhere as well.

According to, prisoners may be exposed to various forms of abuse, including physical, medical, psychological, or sexual from both other inmates and correctional facility staff. Abuse may cause personal injury that’ll affect the parties involved. The best practice would be to prevent the abuse and injuries from ever happening.

Here’s a closer look at these forms of abuse and how they can be prevented:

1. Physical Abuse

There have been numerous accounts of physical abuse endured by prisoners in various facilities all over the world. Some accounts have even gone unreported as the prisoners are scared to speak out. They fear that the abuser will intensify the abuse being dealt with.

Physical abuse can range from corporal punishment to something more subtle like overcrowding. Staff could be hitting, pinching, slapping, or hurting inmates to keep them in check, or they could allow physical altercations with other inmates.

One of the possible solutions for this form of abuse could be to send staff for further training on how to manage their anger or emotions and how to efficiently deal with situations without using violence. Measures could be put in place at the facility to minimize violent altercations between inmates. These measures could include sensitivity and tolerance training or other valuable courses to make inmates more accepting of each other.

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2. Medical Abuse

How can abuse be medical? Well, believe it or not, some facilities refuse medical treatment of inmates as a form of punishment. Other facilities may not offer comprehensive medical services to inmates, and this leads to their health being compromised.

Good quality healthcare should be one of the top priorities for prison facilities and programs with preventative care should be put in place. If medical issues are regularly followed up on, it could prevent the worsening of symptoms or illnesses. As always, prevention is better than cure.

In a Police Station Arrested Man Getting Front-View Mug Shot. He's Wearing Prisoner Orange Jumpsuit and Holds Placard. Height Chart in the Background. Shot with Dark Cold Lights, Vignette Filter.

3. Psychological Abuse

This type of abuse can take on many different forms. It could be belittling, screaming or shouting at inmates, insulting them, or more extreme forms where torture techniques are used. Although inmates are locked up, they still have emotional and psychological needs to be met. Staff who neglect these needs may end up doing more harm to an already emotionally weakened inmate.

A basic psychological screening of inmates could be done before they’re permanently placed with the rest of the prison population. These screenings may prevent psychological and emotional issues from increasing within the prison system if they’re addressed before the inmate formally enters the system.

Due to the harsh conditions that staff may have to work in daily, it could be wise for them to attend regular debriefing sessions. Ensuring that the staff is in their best possible form will assist with the situations that may arise from day to day. If the staff feel good and are more at ease with their work environment, situations might be diffused easier.

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4. Sexual Abuse

Abuse of this nature isn’t only restricted to male on female, but also male on male and female on female. This type of abuse not only occurs between inmates, but also between inmates and staff. Unfortunately, this is fairly common in the prison system, and many are affected by the aftermath. Physical injuries and psychological complications are two of the consequences of sexual abuse.

Solutions for this abuse could include closer monitoring of inmates by employing more staff, having a smaller number of inmates per cell or block, restricting the number of inmates in ablution facilities and other areas where abuse frequently happens, and keeping inmates with a history of sexual offenses separate from the main population.

Immediate investigations could be launched to determine the contributions of each party to the abuse. Staff found to act outside of the code of conduct could be debriefed and dismissed from duty to protect other inmates from suffering through the same ordeal.


Inmates and prison staff could be equally susceptible to abuse in various forms. Prison facilities should remain vigilant and report these incidents as soon as they happened. Measures to address the different types of abuse should be in place, and staff must be aware of them in order for them to react appropriately. Inmates may have lost their freedom, but this doesn’t mean they’re free to be abused.

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