Crime

Prison Rape and the Drug War

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A new report from Stop Prisoner Rape documents the connection between the war on drugs and sexual assault in prisons:

While anyone can be a victim of prisoner rape, inmates convicted of a non-violent drug offense typically possess characteristics that put them at great risk for abuse. They tend to be young, unschooled in the ways of prison life, and lacking the street smarts necessary to protect themselves from other detainees….

The massive prison population growth caused by current U.S. drug policies has resulted in increasingly overcrowded detention facilities, rife with idleness and tension among inmates. With an astonishing 2.3 million people behind bars at any given time, U.S. prisons and jails have simply run out of bed space, leading nonviolent detainees to be housed together with predators in poorly monitored dormitories or cramped cells.

The report, which features chilling first-person accounts from nonviolent drug offenders (including some who stole to support their habits), should be read by anyone who has trouble getting worked up about this issue. Most Americans probably do not worry much about prison rape (and, as the activists often note, even joke about it), seeing it as a deserved comeuppance for criminals who have been imprisoned for preying on others. Even when the victims of prison rape have been locked up for violating other people's rights, this sort of arbitrary, torturous, extrajudicial punishment should be considered beyond the pale in a civilized society. When the victims are guilty only of consensual "crimes" and therefore do not belong in prison to begin with, the continued tolerance of such abuse is even more outrageous.

NEXT: Blood and Treasure

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  1. Hallelujah!!

  2. Rape is a crime regardless of where it occurs. It is especially offensive in a prison because the victims are so vulnerable with little recourse for justice.

  3. The way in which prisons are allowed to be violently lawless environments is about the most inexcusable dimension of our political culture. For the state to exercise the power to incarcerate, and then knowingly permit, and sometimes even encourage, the violent predation of some of those they have locked up, is inexcusable. Toss in the War on Drugs, or other exercises in state power which result in morally illegitimate incarcerations, and you have a practice which is every bit as noxious as lynchings, involuntary sterilizations, and, yes, slavery.

  4. Rape is a crime regardless of where it occurs. It is especially offensive in a prison because the victims are so vulnerable with little recourse for justice.

    Only problem is that the criminals who engage in raping other inmates are already IN jail, so what sort of punishment would be adequate, in order to eliminate the incentive to rape?

    The issue not being seen here (and the author is correct in pointing this out) is that many inmates, especially the rape victims, are incarcerated for what ammounts to “victimless crimes”, or what Papa Stali. . . sorry, the FedGov, calls Drug related Crimes.

  5. Only problem is that the criminals who engage in raping other inmates are already IN jail, so what sort of punishment would be adequate, in order to eliminate the incentive to rape?

    Well, if you don’t think additional jail time would be any deterrent, there’s always castration. Or death, if you think castration is too inhumane.

  6. It is part of the punishment, don’t like it, that’s too bad. Rape, AIDS and Hepatitis C are part of the sentence of going to prison. Criminals who prey on others and or harm society get what they deserve. Don’t do the crime and you wont do the crime. I just can’t get too worked up, everybody allways gets what they deserve.

  7. Only problem is that the criminals who engage in raping other inmates are already IN jail, so what sort of punishment would be adequate, in order to eliminate the incentive to rape?

    1) This conundrum is no different than assault, murder, etc. in prison. Especially a problem with lifers.

    2) The point is that much of the rape problem could be eliminated by not sending vulnerable non-violent offendors to live with hardcore predators. Also, by removing the former from prisons, you’d reduce the overcrowding that both facilitates and, to a degree, motivates this kind of behavior.

    3) With the bulk of nonviolent offendors removed, you’d still have a rape problem, but a smaller and more manageable one. That, I don’t know how to address.

  8. incarcerated for what ammounts to “victimless crimes”

    I don’t buy it, there is no such thing as a “victimless crimes”. I the case of consensual crimes socity is harmed be the downstream effects of your actions, and the morals of society are harmed.

  9. The point is that much of the rape problem could be eliminated by not sending vulnerable non-violent offendors to live with hardcore predators. Also, by removing the former from prisons, you’d reduce the overcrowding that both facilitates and, to a degree, motivates this kind of behavior.

    Perhaps we need separate prisons for violent and no violent offenders.

    Ex:

    prison 1) Murder, robbery, rape etc.
    prison 2) Drugs, gambling porn etc.

  10. > Perhaps we need separate prisons for violent and no violent offenders….

    Or perhaps none of the offenses for prison 2 should be illegal in the first place…

  11. It is part of the punishment, don’t like it, that’s too bad. Rape, AIDS and Hepatitis C are part of the sentence of going to prison. Criminals who prey on others and or harm society get what they deserve. Don’t do the crime and you wont do the crime. I just can’t get too worked up, everybody allways gets what they deserve.

    If this was the intention of a prison sentence, the only sentences we should be handing out are “death” and “life without parole.” And you think that’s a good idea, your knowledge of “incentives to commit crimes” is criminally inadequate (forgive the pun).

  12. Juan? As in Juan-ita, perhaps? Do you really believe that or are you strawman that you appear to be?

  13. Since only a small minority of the populus is remotely worked up about extraordinary rendition, torture, and imprisonment without access to counsel, I don’t see how this gets much traction either.

    Not to draw equivalencies or rationalize, but I’d guess that the Gitmo ECs as a whole are probably at lower risk of personal violence than the GP in a state/federal pen.

  14. My job requires me to be pretty tight with the local police chief and officers. Any time our discussions veer toward this topic, they usually dismiss concerns with talk of just rewards and comments in the “if you can’t do the time….” vein, followed by laughter and sodomy jokes.

    This is also a department that is equipping the break room in its new station with flat-screen TVs seized in a recent drug bust. There is too much incentive for cops to keep up the War on Drugs.

  15. “…everybody allways gets what they deserve.”
    Now that, that is an interesting statement. Have any sort of evidence to back that up?

  16. From Reno 911:

    Who can guess what Circle the Wagons means?

    That is when you put three bunks, like the circling up of the wagons in a wagon train, an old cowboy movie, and they have the sheets hanging down so you can’t see what’s going on inside the four bunks and inside the four bunks about two dozen boys just fucked the shit out of this little Mormon kid. Now they don’t want to break your jaw because they still want your jaw to be able to work, so what it does it takes out your teeth and then they just skull-fucked the shit out of this boy.

    Uh… we came in and there wasn’t really anything left. They ass-fucked him, skull-fucked him, they fucked his back, they’ve been up his shoulders and titty-fucked him with his shoulder blades.

    Fucked up shit, man. We came in here and all the convicts you know, all of them where like, “Uh…” you know, “He was fucked to death before we got here.” So we couldn’t really point the finger at nobody, because it was either all or nothing, and you ain’t going to book two dozen people. Uh… so then, you know, that’s when we starting bolting the bunks to the wall like that.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0370194/quotes
    ———————————————–

    As a graduate of the prison system, I laughed my ass off when I saw that episode

    The prison I was in had to convert office space into dorms to make space for all the new arrivals

    I was in for a violent crime, so I wasn’t allowed in the dorms

    but I heard stories that went pretty much like Reno-911’s skit did

    then there was the time I was in the shower

    There’s an elevated guard post right next to it, so the guards can keep the predatory inmates from molesting the weaklings

    a fight started down the down the way, by the pool tables

    the guard watching the showers rushed off to help restore order

    I turn around, and there’s this fey looking skinny long blond-haired newbie (in on drug charges, he was), on his knees, hastily sucking a muscle bound gangsta off, while one of the gangsta’s cronies stood by on lookout, ready to signal the guard’s return

    the kid owed money for fronting weed, and was convinced to work it off in trade

    that was the second grossest thing I saw in my year and a day stay in the big house

    the grossest?

    Once, while talking to my mom at the prison’s phone banks, a fight started at the nearby pool table

    one guy punched the other guy in the side of the head so hard that dude’s eyeball actually popped out of it’s socket and dangled for a moment on his cheek…then he grabbed it and manually put it back in

    oh, the horror

    and I could hardly tell mom what I just witnessed, so I told her I had to go because a friend wanted to play cards

    which was ironic, because I had no friends there

  17. So, according to Juan, rape is an appropriate punishment for predators. Also, rape is a fitting punishment for people who may have affected America’s morals in some ill-defined way. Before we revoke your troll license, answer this: shouldn’t the predator get more punishment for his crimes than the morals-contaminator? How does your theory hold up to the story’s claim that predators don’t get raped, while the morals-contaminators do? Is it a worse offense to bring marijuana into a godly community than it is to kill the pastor of the church?

    And it is obviously wrong to assume that prisoners deserve their comeuppance. If a judge sentenced a man to 10 to 20 years of buggery, even the most conservative court would strike the sentence down.

  18. Perhaps we need separate prisons for violent and no violent offenders.

    Ex:

    prison 1) Murder, robbery, rape etc.
    prison 2) Drugs, gambling porn etc.

    prison 1) Maximum Security
    prison 2) Minimum Security

    I think there are plenty of instances of rape and violence in the max. security prisons, but I’ve heard from a lot of diffrent sources/people that minimum security prisons, where most non-violent offenders go (the exception being major “Antwon Mitchell” drug dealers), that prison rape is pretty non-existent.

    http://www.jimgoad.net/nicest.html

  19. A friend of mine just got sent up for 5 years by the feds. He had pictures of his 17 year old girlfriend on his PC (he was 19), and his dad ratted him out. He was sent to a minimum security prison to serve his time, but the other inmates found out he was a “sex offender” and he had to be moved to maximum security for his own safety.

    Reading the above sentence, though I wrote it myself, make me wish that the asteroid would just hurry up and get here already. I also wish that some junkie with an ax to grind would tip the cops off to the (probably non-existent) dealing happening in Juan’s house. It is a little harder to be so cavalier when it is your door getting kicked in at 3am, and prison sex is always funnier when it happens to someone else.

    The system is broke, and fixing it is much lower on the list of priorities than banning gay marriage.

  20. The system is broke, and fixing it is much lower on the list of priorities than banning gay marriage.

    Also lower on the list of priorities than legalizing gay marriage.

  21. Would someone please provide an example of a remark more transparently insincere than “Juan”‘s above?

  22. M:

    “nobody but liberal arts pollsters ever believed that 9/11 and Saddam were in any way, shape, or form connected”

    howssat?

  23. (sorry for double post)

    or:

    “I’ll only put it in part way”
    “It’s only a cold sore”
    [HRC:]”I believe in working families”

  24. Prisoners are wards of the state, and I think that should mean that the state is absolutely responsible for their safety while in the state’s care.

    With regard to the problem of “lifers”, it’s not really relevant to the state’s moral burden here. If you can’t keep your wards of the state safe, don’t lock them up. If that means prisons have to have a one-to-one prisoner to guard ratio or be the size of skyscrapers, so be it.

    If the state were made to bear the burden of the expense of humane incarceration, the state would be less likely to imprison people for frivolous reasons. The gap between what we’re spending now and what we’d have to spend to keep our current prisoner population housed safely is effectively being “stolen” by the state to subsidize its drug war.

  25. Jonathan Hohensee:

    Given the fact that there are 3 or 4 levels of prison security, I am skeptical of your claims based on a two-tier model. Also, the rape rate for minimum securitty is supposedly around 10%.

  26. Why should any marriage be legalized? It is a religious institution. Hell, I’ve been happily married for 6 years (only 26 here) and I still don’t get the big deal.

    The government should not be in the business of doling out extra benefits and rights because two people stood in a church for an hour.

    That said, I am not exactly turning those benefits down, I am not that wedded to my philosophy.

    Legalizing gay marriage should be as alien a concept as legalizing public prayer. Just because the religion of the majority frowns upon it is no reason to create an entirely new second class of citizenship.

  27. I think which prison you go to should be primarily a function of how much money you robbed, stole, defrauded, tax evaded or otherwise illegally made from your crime.

    That way, when people are raped in prison at least some non-negligible portion of them would be able to take the matter to court in a serious way. A couple money judgements to compensate for the injury occasioned by prison rape would fix the system quick fast and in a hurry, you better believe.

  28. “Just because the religion of the majority frowns upon it is no reason to create an entirely new second class of citizenship.”

    yes, but that’s exactly what the status quo is doing. Marriage is more than a religious institution – it has legal status. This legal status is the problem. You nail it perfectly with the “second class” citizen observation!

    It’s very easy for us to say “get gov’t out of marriage”, that’s nice, but not gonna happen, so, that’s a cop out that favors the second class citizen pov.

    Drug laws – being a felon – fall somewhat into this category, as well. The example about the 19 and 17 year olds also.

    Think of all the boomers who did do the sex, drugs, and rock n roll: now that they’re parents, they don’t want their kids doing that stuff, so they give us abstinence programs (see: Penn and Teller’s for that one!), “just say no”, and U2. fuck ’em!

  29. Re lifers: Say what you want about the state’s obligation, you also need to figure out a proper punishment for the lifer who commits crimes in prison.

    Also, I said “nonviolent” crimes above — that includes things like theft and fraud, hardly “victimless”.

  30. categorizing dealers as non-violent offenders is a mistake

    urban drug dealing is an inherently violent business

    a business where violence in defense of market share is the norm, and shallow, short term, low yielding conspiracies and alliances rule the playing field

    that’s a big part of why society can be convinced to hate drugs

    drug prohibition chases off all but the immoral from selling illegal drugs (with some notable exceptions in the medical pot sphere)

    so we get immoral individuals running high profit distribution outfits who step very aggressive with their competitors

    they make awful inmates

    I’d rather be in with a guy who pistol whipped a bank teller and rammed a police car (my neighbor in C-house, back in the day)

  31. “urban drug dealing is an inherently violent business”

    I think you watch too many movies. Yes, in areas where gangs are prevailent there is drug violence. Is that where you think yuppies score their coke? Most dealers are fairly normal people- even in the neighborhood I live in (Humboldt Park- Chicago)

  32. woah woah woah.

    “Humnoldt Park” and “normal people”?????

    woah.

    *head explodes

  33. Thank you, VM. I should have specified that I meant both “posted here” and “intended as bait to elicit strong reactions.”

    Btw, your [HRC:] “I believe in working families” seems true enough, working being a transitive verb, as in “I believe in working the oxen to till [HRC’s] fields.”

  34. M:

    excellent reading of HRC! Excellent!

  35. The people in Humboldt Park dealing drugs. I think that was pretty clear. Did you just need a quick fix of moral superiority- Ahhh…(shivers) I’m so virtuous.

  36. Most dealers are fairly normal people

    In your neck of the woods sure. But those dealers don’t have to be violent because costs have been externalized for them — chances are good the Mexican or Columbian distributors that got the coke into the US in the first place do not have the same scruples as your dealers.

  37. Indeed SM! Indeed 🙂

  38. Damn. I’ve been wanting to use that line for a while.

  39. isn’t humboldt park rapidly filling with hipsters priced out of wicker park?

    in fact, when you read craigslist, don’t they advertise apartments at the corner of like north/california as “west wicker park”?

  40. Frunobulax, black markets are inherently violent, regardless of what they sell. Its not the “market” part that makes them violent – the world is full of non-violent markets – its the “black” part.

    Back when the liquor market was a black market, it was extremely violent. Then liquor was legalized, and lo – the violence went away. I can’t remember the last time there was a shootout between Busch and Coors.


  41. It is part of the punishment, don’t like it, that’s too bad. Rape, AIDS and Hepatitis C are part of the sentence of going to prison. Criminals who prey on others and or harm society get what they deserve. Don’t do the crime and you wont do the crime. I just can’t get too worked up, everybody allways gets what they deserve.

    I would almost believe you, if you would say exactly the same thing about female prisoners. My bet, only male prisoners get the “they deserved it” spiel from you when raped or assaulted. Sadly, that makes you quite normal. I’ve even heard workers at rape crisis centers make such comments, without a hint of irony.

  42. Mr. SC

    Pretty much. It was the wild west when I moved there.

    You still don’t want to live on North and California and for god’s sake stay away from Rockwell and North.

  43. are there blue-light cameras at rockwell?

    i always feel like somebody’s watching meeeeee…

  44. prison rape to me is the same as gay marriage.
    I dont care what they do on their own time, just dont try to shove it down my throat.

  45. Bob Smith – Interesting thought-experiment. I wonder how soon some of those cited here who seem sanguine about prisoner rape would similarly justify the rape of women convicts.

  46. Yep, ride your bike down Rockwell sometime. It’s quite stimulating.

  47. drug prohibition chases off all but the immoral from selling illegal drugs (with some notable exceptions in the medical pot sphere)

    so we get immoral individuals running high profit distribution outfits who step very aggressive with their competitors

    I know, preaching to the choir here, but part of the violence is also due to the “underground” nature of the business. If a business partner in a legitimate business wrongs you, you have legal recourse to pursue him with lawsuits, etc. If a liquor store is robbed, the clerk can call the cops. If you coke stash is robbed, the only things you can do are pursue the thieves and retrieve your product by any means necessary or go out of business.

    This is also the main reason that prostitutes are at the mercy of violent “pimps”. What are they going to do, call the cops and say that the pimp stole 80% of her illegal money?

  48. On the other hand, if we sent even more nonviolent drug offenders to prison, they would probably crowd out the predators, leading to less prison rape! Or if that didn’t work, they could form their own prison gang and defend themselves, leading to less prison rape!

  49. “in fact, when you read craigslist, don’t they advertise apartments at the corner of like north/california as “west wicker park”?”

    i’m glad this happens in other places. desirable neighborhoods expand at an astounding rate (general 1 acre per new indie-fuck)

  50. dhex – this happened a few years ago in the “Lincoln Park” neighborhood as well. According to some, that neighborhood is nearly 1/2 mile larger (to the north) and about the same distance west.

    🙂

    just smile and nod at them and say patiently, it’s all 773 for me

    [runs off]

  51. VM: well, demographically, it IS all lincoln park between diversey and belmont. unless you’re on broadway, of course – that’s still east lakeview. 😀

  52. in fact, when you read craigslist, don’t they advertise apartments at the corner of like north/california as “west wicker park”?

    Wow, can I vouch for this.
    My sister-in-law and her husband just found themselves a new apartment on craigslist. They told me where it was. I said, what’s that – Humboldt Park or Logan Square? They said it’s around there, but it’s listed as west Wicker Park or west Bucktown, I forget which. (Which sounds hipper?)

    just smile and nod at them and say patiently, it’s all 773 for me

    So what are you, VM? 312? Phhht…Anybody living in 312 is a total wannabe hipster yuppie scumbag. West Loop? You couldn’t even walk through there in broad daylight 10 years ago. Now it’s lofts. Some “neighborhood.” South Loop? Same thing. Gold Coast? What are you – an 80 year old retired stockbroker? River North? Yuppie Scum HQ, how may I help you?

    I’ll shut up now, because I’m 708.

  53. 🙂
    Hi High#!!

    The lake looks lovely today!

    Mr. Crane – that’s probably the case. Upwards of 8-9 years ago the area north of diversey (Lakeview up to Wrigleyville – young types either just moving to Chicago or just getting the good job type thing. Think: About Last Night) was the Lincoln Park Wanna bes 🙂

    Then it switched to Wicker Park/Bucktown. But older people flocked to “Lincoln Square” and all of a sudden, whole new “Lincoln Square” emerged!

    West Loop is for the hipsters who don’t remember the Berlin Wall!

    When I lived in Philly, every feakin place in the area (east of me even) was “Art Museum” area. Including those at 15th and Spring Garden! Philly types – is that still the case?

    Still, for hipster, cutting-edge types, Camden NJ is still the place to be! Catch the train from Lindenwold, and you’re in Philly! 🙂

  54. The lake looks lovely today!

    Grrrr…

  55. what do you suppose the ratio of “yuppie coke dealers doing hard time” to “street corner crack dealers doing hard time” is?

    I don’t watch TV, although posters here convinced me to check out “The Wire” (I watched seasons one and two, and the beginning of season 3 before I moved on–my wife watched all 4 and told me all about them…helluva story teller, that wife of mine)

    I try to limit my observations to the “primary source” category

    last winter (it IS springtime, you know), I drove into deepest darkest north minneapolis to work on a friend’s computer

    dude lives in a bad neighborhood

    there’s a barber shop by his house where the crack dealers hang out

    on the night in question, is was very cold, even by relaxed minnesota standards

    yet there was a clutch of bundled up brothers, hanging out, waiting to make sales

    “how fucked do you gotta be to end up hanging out on a street corner selling rock in this weather?” I wondered as we passed them

    on our way back there were bunches of cop cars and vans camped, lights flashing, around the barbershop

    judging by the backseat headcount, it looked like 5 people were in custody

    easy pickings for the cops

    nobody but a crack head’s gonna be hanging out on that street corner in miserable sub zero temps

    if charged (maybe they were mercy arrests to get them out of the cold) those miserable souls were doomed to the tender mercies our court system directs towards our poor

    public defender, plea bargain, jail time, probation

    any future charges result in a probation violation, revocation, and then time in the state prison for undergraduate work

    (it you squint just right, the prision system looks so much like our school system it’s scary….and vice versa)

    how many yuppie coke dealers do you suppose were popped on the night in question?

    and how many of them ended up following anyplace near the same lawyerless, fastfood justice trajectory as their lower class drug dealing brethren?

  56. Lax prison control is bullshit. I’ve seen quite a few prison documentaries that pretty much tell how to smuggle drugs, make weapons, and beat rape people. Since the prison staff knows how all this stuff happens but seem to do little to prevent it I can’t help but think it’s done on purpose.

    I’m pretty convinced this hardens up hard criminals. Hell, even gang members think of it as a type of school.

    Maybe they are just understaffed. But how would a politician convince us to spend more money on protecting criminals from each other given the popular “can’t do the time…” sentiment? Sure would be easy to run an attack add against.

  57. hey highnumber!

    the lake looks great up here, too. while i’m not on the gold coast, riding my bike up sheridan road to evanston sure is purty.

  58. Evanston?
    I’m sorry.


    Oak Parker

  59. hey High#: you forgot Old Town!

    Old Jerusalem is a great restaurant there.

    Hey – Mr. Crane terrorizes NW students with free-thinking, skeptical Liberalism!

  60. I suspect that in most instances, when guys make jokes about prison rape, it’s because prison rape is just about their worst nightmare.

  61. i don’t LIVE in evanston, i just visit.

    i’m in or near beautiful andersonville. yeah that neighborhood.

  62. “i don’t LIVE in evanston, i just visit.”
    he’s a part time stripper. AND he does hair.

  63. can’t you see how tight my outfit is?

    it’s the only way i can breathe.

  64. Andersonville used to be cool.
    Like when it was all Swedish and Middle Eastern and lesbian.
    Then it changed.
    Bye-bye, Footsteps Theatre Company.
    Bye-bye, beauty college downstairs.
    Hello, stupid chain health club.

  65. Hello, you wonderful old building and loan!

  66. it’s still pretty lesbian, man.

    fairly swedish, too. mmm, gl?gg.

  67. High#:

    socialism, terrorism, moral turpitude.

    you just outlined why A’ville was target A#1 for the vast right wing conspiracy!

    The Swedish museum is really cool, tho. 🙂
    Eckstr?m’s was cool, too! (is it still there?)

  68. yes moose, eckstr?m’s is still there.

    or is that wikstr?m’s?

  69. like, whatevs, dood.

    am in u r swedenville eating u r meatballz

  70. My wife was a member of Footsteps, a women’s theater company up there. They disbanded in 2000 or 2001. I enjoyed the Persian and Lebanese restaurants when we visited the ‘hood regularly.

    Footsteps was about block or half a block north of Clark. I remember going into one of the bars right there (Simon’s or Farragut’s – whichever one did not have the rainbow sign in the window) while I was waiting for my wife to finish up some theater biz. A homeless guy walked in with a dog. The bartender started yelling at him to leave since he had already been told not to come back. The guy halfheartedly begged and pleaded with her, but then she picked up on the fact that he had a dog with him. She said, “You don’t have a dog! Whose dog is that? Give me the dog and get out of here or I’ll call the cops!” So he gave her the dog and he left. Some guy sitting at the bar got to keep the dog. Pretty cool, eh?

  71. “Still, for hipster, cutting-edge types, Camden NJ is still the place to be! Catch the train from Lindenwold, and you’re in Philly!”

    I assume the above was facetious. It would be a brave, heavily armed hipster who lived in Camden. Maybe in a few years, but not quite yet.

  72. Camden – yes it was.:)

    High#: wow!

  73. Funny how a thread on prison rape devolved into a discussion about Chicago.

    Of the two, I’d prefer Chicago.

  74. Seriously, though – one trend in prisons is the “SuperMax”. Prisoners are locked up 23 hours a day, with one hour to exercise. Since there are many fewer prisoners out and about, controlling them is easier.

  75. Hey, idiot!

    Footsteps was about block or half a block north of Clark.
    doesn’t make sense!

    Don’t you mean “north of Foster, on Clark”?

  76. Yes, thank you.

  77. “When the victims are guilty only of consensual ‘crimes’ and therefore do not belong in prison to begin with, the continued tolerance of such abuse is even more outrageous.”

    Even more outrageous than that: police and prosecutors are really, really vindictive when those accused of consensual “crimes” refuse to display the proper contrition, or question the legitimacy of the law. They’re apt to give the prison warden a wink and a nudge that this incoming prisoner has a “bad attitude” and needs “special treatment.” Just think of the authorities’ double standard toward ordinary criminals and politicos in 1984, and you get the picture.

  78. I don’t know if Juan’s comments above can be taken too seriously but there’s no doubt that the spectre of prison rape is a big part of the deterrant that keeps more people from committing crimes than they already do.

  79. “I don’t know if Juan’s comments above can be taken too seriously but there’s no doubt that the spectre of prison rape is a big part of the deterrant that keeps more people from committing crimes than they already do.” – Dan T.

    And this, and the way people who haven’t been exposed to it think of it as a convenient deterrent, is possibly the sickest thing in U.S. culture.

  80. Dan, I seriously doubt anyone says “I wouldn’t mind doing a few years in jail for this, but I won’t because I might get raped there.”

  81. “Lax prison control is bullshit. I’ve seen quite a few prison documentaries that pretty much tell how to smuggle drugs, make weapons, and beat rape people. Since the prison staff knows how all this stuff happens but seem to do little to prevent it I can’t help but think it’s done on purpose.”

    And that seems to be the nut of the problem. How is one to police the police? The guards themselves are in prison much of the time, what more supervision could they have? And by whom?

    This whole problem is intractable as long as prisons exist. One could try to solve it by expanding prisons to give everyone a private room, but it’s also been said that solitary confinement is cruel.

    I do think we should look more at alternatives to confinement for disablement and/or punishment, and reassess the relative cruelty and expense of temporary or permanent confinement as opposed to infliction of physical pain, dismemberment, paralysis, or other possibilities.

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