Over a year ago the bipartisan National Prison Rape Elimination Commission (NPREC) issued standards as a guide to eliminate sexual abuse in prisons. They sent Eric Holder a letter urging he facilitate the adoption of these standards.
"The commission's proposed standards merely put into words what the Constitution already requires," said Amy Fettig, staff attorney with the ACLU National Prison Project. "Prison officials have a constitutional obligation to provide prisoners with protection against violence and sexual abuse, and Attorney General Holder should implement the standards without delay."
Because we treat prisons as an industry in this country inmates have been treated as products to be used to make money. Citizens choose to ignore how inmates are treated thinking they deserve it or not believing what is reported about the prisons. That is part of the problem. This has gone on so long there is now no easy solution. Those overseeing inmates are often not the cream of the crop in society, some of them are worse than the inmates. Rapes and contraband like drugs are in great part due to corrections officers. This is not new information, this is old information. Society is just now becoming conscious of this problem and beginning to come out of denial. States and the federal government have allowed this. We have mass incarceration fueled by the “war on drugs”, it is a war against our own citizens, a war that changes a health problem into a crime. The mentally ill are also in the prisons in high numbers, many are vulnerable and not protected. In fact they are often preyed upon by those who should be protecting them, the prison guards. As a society we have not cared what happens to inmates. What does this say about us?
From Dan Froomkin on the HuffPo:
Inmates continue to experience sexual victimization in shocking numbers inside America's prisons and jails, even as Attorney General Eric Holder defies a congressional deadline to develop and enact national standards to address the problem.
A new study released Thursday by the Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that 88,500 adults held in U.S. prisons and jails are sexually abused annually, either by staff or fellow inmates.
Overall, the survey paints a grim picture of a system of mass incarceration where all too many prisoners, stripped of their autonomy or ability to defend themselves, spend their sentences terrorized by sexual predators.
Sexual predation is just one of the ways inmates are terrorized and the biggest terrorizers are the prison guards. Low level inmates are often placed with violent ones. Young boys are now put in prison. This traumatizes them and changes them forever. Many are very angry at society when they are released from prison.
Defying some of the pop-cultural stereotypes, however, it turns out most of that predation is carried out by guards, rather than inmates: 2.8 percent of prison inmates reported sexual misconduct by prison staff, compared to 2.1 percent who reported being abused by fellow inmates. The staff statistics include ostensibly willing sexual activity, as all sexual contacts between inmates and staff are legally non-consensual.
I was assaulted in the 1980s when I reported that staff at a psychiatric facility for mentally ill offenders was having sex with an inmate. I also had given him a mild concussion when I caught him, so he was retaliating in part for that. The patient was delusional and thought every man she saw was her husband, she was easy prey. I also reported a corrections officer at a prison for having sex with an inmate and never returned to that job as I knew I would be in danger. They keep a code of silence and will harass or harm those who cross them. In some prisons it is known by upper management sexual assaults are happening and they do nothing for fear of retaliation or sometimes because they just don’t care, this includes juvenile facilities.
Staff sexual misconduct was more common in men's than in women's facilities.
And female inmates were more than twice as likely as male inmates to report experiencing inmate-on-inmate sexual victimization.
Most people would be surprised to find out female corrections officers are 58% more likely to have sex with inmates than male officers. I found out in Deming NM the female corrections officers were essentially having orgies with the inmates on night shift many years ago. Their punishment was to be transferred to day shift. At first I thougt if they had been men they would have been charged with crimes and sent to prison, but then I found out how corrupt law enforcement was in Deming. Gender would not have mattered.
Yet some of the stereotypes appear to be justified. Among those reporting inmate-on-inmate sexual victimization, 13% of male prison inmates and 19% of male jail inmates said it began within the first 24 hours after admission.
And prison inmates who identify as non-heterosexual were more than eight times as likely to report being sexually victimized by other inmates, and almost three times as likely to report being sexually victimized by staff.
The survey did not include incarcerated minors, but in a similar BJS report released in January, more than 12 percent of youth in juvenile detention -- or one in eight -- reported sexual abuse; again, mostly by facility staff.
I extensively discussed many problems I observed or experienced while incarcerated in Alaskan prisons I never saw any sexual assault or sexual harassment by staff or inmates. The inmates all took showers alone in the Alaska prisons and I really feel that if there had been any attacks inmates would have stopped it and called the corrections officers. They were protective of each other for the most part, except for a couple of nasty women at Wildwood,. But, aren’t there always a couple of nasty women everywhere? I am sure there must have been problems sometime somewhere, but I saw no sexual assaults or sexual harassment of any kind. There may be more problems in the men’s prisons and certainly we all know about the young native men who were repeatedly raped in one of Alaska’s prisons.