Prison Law Blog

Sara Mayeux

Ninth Circuit: Nevada’s Women-only Prison Guard Policy Violated Title VII

with 3 comments

After a Nevada inmate was impregnated by a male prison guard in a private Corrections Corporation of America facility, the state canceled its CCA contract and implemented a new hiring policy for its women’s prisons. Under the policy — which is no longer in place — all supervisory (or “lieutenant”) positions would be filled by women and the line prison guard staff would be 70% women. In a Title VII challenge to that policy filed by several male prison guards, the Ninth Circuit has reversed a district court grant of summary judgment for the state. The panel reasoned that sex is not a bona fide occupational qualification for a supervisory position in a women’s prison, rejecting the state’s implications that men are more likely to tolerate sexual abuse, that male supervisors are more likely to sexually abuse inmates, and that female guards are “less susceptible to manipulation by inmates” (PDF p. 9688). Judge Marsha Berzon, writing for the panel, criticized these arguments as stereotypical: “Disturbingly, in suggesting that all men are inherently apt to sexually abuse, or condone sexual abuse of, female inmates, NDOC relies on entirely specious gender stereotypes that have no place in a workplace governed by Title VII” (PDF p. 9695).

Written by sara

July 12, 2010 at 11:17 am

3 Responses

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  1. I think that is ridiculous that they would overturn using more women to watch over female prisoners. Less harassment for sexual favors. There is always a rotten egg or two with men guarding women….and those privately run prisons are the issue. I know first hand.
    Offer training to more women in the correctional field.

    Angie Green

    July 12, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    • It’s not about men or women working the female institution but about women only in supervisory roles. In order for title VII to be effective, it must protect everyone. Originally, Title VII in part became to be due to female officers in up state New York who sued to be able to work in male facilities and be able to take part in promotional opportunities, so when lies the difference here?


      July 12, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    • And yet a 2007 U.S. Department of Justice study analyzing the prevalence of sexual assault in state and federal prisons found that 58 percent of staff perpetrators of sexual misconduct were female.

      Female prison guards commit the majority of sex offenses against inmates, despite the fact that they comprise a minority of the total prison guard population.,2933,589222,00.html


      December 24, 2011 at 6:14 pm

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