After four years of taking testimony and doing whatever else it is that they do, the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission (NPREC) will release its final report and recommendations later this month. So now seems like a good time to take a moment to revisit our dismissive national attitude toward jailhouse sex crime.
For Exhibit A, check out the dizzying new heights of un-funny reached by the marketing minds at Fox:
After four successful seasons, the Fox series Prison Break is going off the air, and the publicity team at Fox sent [to The Advocate] a little reminder to tune in—a press release, accompanied by a bar of soap.
How about picking up "Don't Drop the Soap," a board game created by the son of Gov. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas. The game "is simply intended for entertainment," said Nicole Corcoran, the governor's spokeswoman. What, after all, could be more entertaining then[sic] trying to "avoid being cornered by the Aryans in the shower room" (one of the goals of the game, according to its promotional material)?
Sadly, many of the people taking prison rape seriously are, well, not doing a very good job of it. See, for instance, reality TV "Judge" Greg Mathis' new video game—which wasn't supposed to be a joke, but obviously is one:
"The main difference between our game and Grand Theft Auto is that players will have to deal with the justice system and consequences for their actions," said Mathis. "When you go to prison, you gain credibility when you come back on the streets. On the other hand, when you go to prison you can also be raped. So take your chances. We may see young people who make the wrong choice and go to prison and are assaulted repeatedly (in this game)."
Apparently, prison rape is now a feature, not a bug. Someone should let the commission know.
If you want a serious take on prison rape from Reason, check out Jesse Walker's August 2003 coverage of the Act that created the NPREC, and then read Cathy Young's May 2007 article, which asks: "How big a problem is prison rape—and what can be done about it?"