Friday, April 26, 2013

Yes, there should.*

I was making my regular internet legal news rounds this morning when I spotted this headline on Slate:

Should There Be Female Guards in Men’s Prisons?

Well, I have a definite opinion about that and that headline raises one big, glaring question in my mind, so I read. I'm honestly not entirely sure of the author's point or how he would answer his own question. (Seriously, people get paid to write stuff like this?? Where's my contract with Slate?) But he starts off the piece by noting surprise to learn that women do work as guards in men's prisons.

My question is: would he be surprised to learn that men work as guards in women's prisons? He never once mentions anything about that. From the main focus of his article, he should. The article that prompted him to realize that women do work in men's prisons was about prison corruption with a heavy dose of inappropriate sexual contact between the inmates and the guards. So he really should have worried about male guards in female prisons as, I can assure you, there are all sorts of sexual shenanigans in those facilities, as well. If the author's concern is about guards being susceptible to engaging in inappropriate relationships with inmates, shouldn't the concern be equal the other way? But lesbians would be ok in men's prison while gay men aren't?

The problem with prison guards engaging in any sort of inappropriate or corrupt behavior isn't limited to sexual shenanigans. The solution shouldn't be, either. The solution should be to weed out bad guards, by things like paying guards better so they aren't tempted, impose serious sanctions on them, etc.

This article didn't have to be sexist. If the author wanted to have a worthwhile discussion of whether we couldn't remove sex from prisons by having men guard men and women guard women, he could have started that. I would think it was wrong to limit guards by gender, but at least it's a fair argument as compared to limiting the question to women working in men's prisons. But he didn't do that, did he? So, yeah, gotta call Sexist.

*Every time I go to prison, I'm a little glad to know I'm not the only woman those guys will see all week.

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