Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Just say no to tolerating prison rape

It's common, and by some even considered funny, to make cracks about criminals the public doesn't like getting what they "deserve" in prison, courtesy of cellmate Bubba. It always makes me nauseated to read comments to online articles along those lines. Prison rape is a real problem. No one deserves to be violated in that way, no matter how heinous his or her crime. Anyone who can be proven to have committed rape should be prosecuted, especially prison guards who take advantage of a vulnerable population. Prison rape is certainly nothing to be laughed at.

So this headline caught my eye yesterday:

States could lose money over prison rapes

States receiving federal money for prisons could see their funding cut if they fail to adopt measures to reduce sexual violence in correctional facilities nationwide, a federal report said.Link

The federal report found that not enough is being done to prevent rapes in prison or to prosecute the offenders. So this is a good development. Money does talk, so perhaps prisons around the country will finally be inclined to address the very real problem. But one line in the article that caught my attention suggested that prisons should adopt a zero tolerance policy as one part of a strategy to lower the number of prison rapes. Huh?? Don't we as a society (in theory, anyway) ALREADY have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to rape? Here's hoping this threat to withhold money encourages corrections departments nationwide to remember that all rape is criminal, even if it's committed by Bubba against that really perverted child molester.


Bob S. said...


I'm always interested in people who say we should solve a problem but do not offer a way to solve that problem.

What can be done, other than what is supposed to be done?

I agree that prosecuting prison guards is a step, but do they really commit a large portion of the rapes?

What are we going to threaten the prisoners with - JAIL TIME?

Also agree that we should and do have a zero tolerance for rape.

S said...

The report lists several steps to reduce prison rapes, all of which sound good to me. Oh, and it's not my job to tell DOCs how to solve the problem. They need to admit that they have a problem and, yes, I think I get to demand that they do something even if I haven't thought through exactly what they should do.

Right now, a lot of prisons do very little. Some have an institutional sense that these activities are inevitable, so why bother trying. But the report did note that there are some prisons where the rapes seem to be concentrated, suggesting that the prisons with much lower rape rates are doing something successful.

Yes, prison guards do commit a large portion of the rapes in prison. Not necessarily a majority, but far more than you would expect.

Of course we should threaten prisoners with additional jail time. They shouldn't get away with rapes just because it seems pointless to threaten more time to guys in prison. Prisons everywhere have disciplinary systems set up. Inmates are regularly prosecuted for crimes.

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