Prisoner abuse is the mistreatment of persons while they are under arrest or incarcerated, therefore deprived of the right of self-defense against acting authorities and generally defenseless in actual fact.
Abuse falling into this category includes:
- Physical abuse: Illicit beating and hitting, unlawful corporal punishment, stress positions, excessive or prolonged physical restraining, etc.
- Psychological abuse: Verbal abuse, sleep deprivation, white noise, pointless/absurd or humiliating instructions, recurrent exhaustive inspections and shakedowns, arbitrary strip searches, denuding actions, exposure, etc.
- Sexual abuse: excessive vaginal or rectal contraband searches or other not indicated internal checks, forced sexual intercourse, forced insertion of objects into vagina or rectum, arbitrary strip searches and other forms of forced denudation (sexual abuse is thematically widely overlapping with psychological and physical abuse.)
- Strip searches: The experience of a forced strip search can be experienced as a traumatic event similarly to that of rape especially by female prisoners. The prevalence of CCTV in prisons and the generally indiscreet nature of strip searches, with often a number of guards observing, can add to the experienced humiliation. Strip searches are often arbitrarily used under various pretences, when the actual ambition is to assert control or to intimidate the subjected prison inmates.
- Enemas: Forced enemas are commonly acknowledged as being uncomfortable and degrading for the receiving person. Such a treatment can also be registered as a form of physical abuse as well as sexual abuse, if practiced against the will of the prisoner. This is usually done in order to demonstrate predominance and assert "total control" over detainees. As a consequence of this practice, anal fissures, chronic hemorrhoids and rectal prolapse can occur when administered excessively. Forced enemas have evidentially been used for example at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp by the United States. In certain cases it was administered under the pretence to counter a prisoner's dehydration. Forms of medical justification were employed whenever enemas were in fact used as a coercive tool. Despite the pretext of medical need, it was later admitted in certain cases, that this was in fact untrue. The CIA administered enemas to Khalid Sheik Mohammed, Mustafa al-Hawsawi and Mohammed al-Qahtani among others.
- Torture: any act, whether physical or psychological, which is deliberately done to inflict excruciating and agonizing pain upon a person under the actor's custody or physical control for any reason such as extracting information or punishment.
- Other abuse: Refusal of essential medication, etc.
The endless playing of random static (similar to that of unused TV frequencies) with no pattern; this can cause extreme discomfort and disorientation.
Prisoners may be subject to taunting, heckling, profanity, and malicious lies by prison authorities. Guards and other authorities may use verbal abuse as a means of frightening or demoralizing prisoners to make them more compliant, or simply out of sadism.
Enablement of sexual violence
Prisoners are sometimes intentionally housed with inmates known to have raped other prisoners, or protection from known rapists may be purposely withheld from the prisoners. These practices create a very high incidence of rape in US prisons, which was the topic of the 2001 report No Escape from Human Rights Watch.