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Prison Injustice
Prison Rape Problem Highlights Need for Reform

While debate continues over how common on-campus rape is, Michael Brendan Dougherty highlights another kind of rape problem: those that occur in prisons. According to statistics collected by the Bureau of Justice, around 20,000 Americans in prisons reported being sexually abused in 2011. More:

In prison, men may become the victim of repeated gang rapes. Prisoners can be locked into cellswith the men who prey on them. Some live under the constant threat of sexual assault for decades. Their efforts to report their rape are ignored or even punished, both by prison personnel and an inmate culture that destroys “snitches.” The threat of rape is so pervasive it causes some inmates to “consent” to sex with certain prisoners or officers as a way of avoiding rape by others.

Acceptance of prison rape is a stinking corruption. No conception of justice can include plunging criminals into an anarchic world of sexual terror. And obviously it thwarts any possibility of a rehabilitative justice that aims to restore criminals to lawful society. Inmates are not improved or better integrated into society through physical and psychological torture.

The prison rape problem is one more reason to back serious reforms to the American penal system. Fortunately, reforms of that sort have increasingly powerful coalitions behind them—and appear to be making progress. The number if inmates has dropped nationwide in recent years, as crime rates have fallen, politicians have pushed for reduced sentencing times, and states have done a better job managing the penal system. With the help of Christian backers, even California is inching towards reform. National figures like Rand Paul have taken it up as a cause. However, the situation in many prisons remains bad and there is a lot of work still to do. Read the whole thing to be reminded of how desperately that work is needed.

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  • Pete

    The reform that is needed is that prisons need more discipline — a lot more.

    Just like the homeless problem is due in large part to soft headed judges emptying out the nut houses in the 70s, so prison rape is due to granting convicted felons far too many rights in prison.

    For example, wherever they go in prison, the cons should be forced to march in lock step with heir mouths shut.

    Believe me, if any of Mead’s kiddies were to be sent up the river, they’d wish for the most disciplined prison possible.

    • Corlyss

      More discipline = more taxpayer $$$ for personnel.
      The answer IMO is decriminalizing a lot of non-violent behaviors that land people up in places they don’t belong. This country needs a systematic re-think of its criminal laws and the punishments for violating them. Just another big issue that is unlikely to be dealt with in the one year between election cycles.
      My first brush with this prison rape issue was an account that appeared in the Washingtonian in the late 70s or early 80s about a man who was arrested for demonstrating peacefully and detained in the execrably predatory DC jail over the weekend till he could be arraigned the following week. He was repeatedly raped. Didn’t seem like an appropriate sentence for civil disobedience.

      • FriendlyGoat

        You are right for knowing we are putting too many people in prisons and jails for questionable reasons. You are also right for recognizing that the jail experiences of some people are ridiculously disproportionate to the infractions which landed them there.

    • Eightman

      I second your notion of more discipline. Prison rape (and murder) should be made a Federal crime punishable by death.

      Prison over crowding is a problem especially in states like California due to excessive salary and benefits of prison guards and the large number of illegal alien felons (dreamers) with which the state has been “blessed”. The illegal aliens prisoners should be “out-sourced” to serve their full sentences in a low cost country. After they complete their sentences they should be deported to their country of origin and made permantetly ineligible for entry into the United States.

      Corporal punishment needs to be reestablished in U.S. prisons. It should be possible to punish unruly prisoners without involving the courts. This would be more humane in the long run as it would prevent exploitation of the weak by the gangs who seem to be in charge of the prisons due to the “soft headed judges” referenced above.

      • FriendlyGoat

        Your comment epitomizes modern political conservatism. You start off by recommending death for prison rapists, a position your new Congress would not even consider, much less enact. Then you slam people who were brought here as small children from other countries (dreamers) as felons. Then you haven’t enough sense to know that allowing the corrupt prison workers to return to beating their inmates is unsurpassed ignorance. Then you wrap it all up by blaming the courts and judges.

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