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January 16, 1981

'Sexual behavior in an abnormal situation'

JAMA. 1981;245(3):215-220. doi:10.1001/jama.1981.03310280007002

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Even the session's title provoked controversy as experts gathered at the American Medical Association's conference on health care in jails to discuss "Abnormal Sexual Behavior in the Correctional Facility."

The title was termed "pejorative" by David Rothenberg, executive director of the Fortune Society, "a nonprofit organization of ex-convicts and other interested persons" with headquarters in New York City. What was being discussed, he said, was sexual behavior in an abnormal situation.

In general, postulated Peter L. Nacci, PhD, director of the US Department of Justice's Federal Prison System Staff Training Center, Atlanta, same-sex activity occurs in prison because the inmate:

  • wants to participate;

  • complies with the desires of others but does not genuinely wish to do so;

  • is manipulated into participation through gifts, persuasion, or trickery; or

  • is sexually assaulted.

The environment also plays a role, he said, because of the crowding, idle time, difficult living