Sexual Abuse of Women in Prison: A Thematic Case Study

Ford Foundation



Case Study Sector


Until very recently, foundations either supported human rights work exclusively out of their international programs or had U.S. programs that did not fund human rights. This includes the Ford Foundation, which until seven years ago maintained separate programs for human and civil rights. In 1996, Susan Berresford, the foundation’s president, merged these units, which greatly facilitated the development of a more integrated approach to rights work. Today (2004) all of the issue-specific program areas within the foundation’s Human Rights Unit have both international and domestic components, with the human rights framework operating wherever appropriate as bridge between the two. This case is one of 13 in the volume Close to Home: Case Studies of Human Rights Work in the United States.
In March 1994, Human Rights Watch (HRW), a U.S.-based international human rights organization, began an investigation into the sexual abuse of women by guards in U.S. state prisons. The resulting report, issued two years later, All Too Familiar: The Sexual Abuse of Women in U.S. State Prisons, relied in large measure on the work of Barry, LaBelle, Smith and others to expose the abuse and mistreatment of women in prison and denounce the failure of state and federal authorities to remedy the problems.



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