Prisons

Step One: Tell Guards and Prisoners That Rape is Against the Rules

|

The National Prison Rape Elimination Commission released its final report and recommendations this week. The Commission was established by the Prison Rape Elimination Act in 2003 to develop a set of policy proposals to end sexual abuse in prisons. The recommendations, though, read more like a desperate plea for basic competency in prison management. Sample a few of its groundbreaking ideas:

To begin with, every correctional agency must have a written policy mandating zero tolerance for all forms of sexual abuse in all settings, whether it is operated by the government or by a private company working under contract with the government….

Thoroughly screen all new job applicants…to prevent hiring, retaining, or promoting anyone who has engaged in sexual abuse….

Strict limits on cross-gender searches and the viewing of prisoners who are nude or performing bodily functions are necessary because of the inherently personal nature of such encounters….

Facilities have a duty to thoroughly investigate every allegation of sexual abuse without delay and to completion, regardless of whether or not the alleged victim cooperates with investigators….

The Commission urges that individuals under the age of 18 be held seperately from the general population.

To recap: Have zero tolerance for sexual abuse, don't hire people with a history of sexual abuse, don't allow cross-gender observation of nude prisoners, fully investigate alleged sexual abuses, and separate adult and juvenile prisoners.

If these suggestions seem obvious to you…well, they should. Perhaps you'd be interested in a career in corrections?

To my mind, there are two possibilities here. Either the commission has wasted years of funding and produced a vanilla, restatement-of-the-conventional-wisdom report, or the extent of safety problems in America's prisons beggars belief, making a novelty out of even the most conventional policy prosposals. Given the prevalence of stories like this, I'm inclined toward the latter conclusion.

Reason writers have covered prison rape and the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission here, here, and here.

NEXT: Medical Marijuana in Three Countries: The Advantages of Federalism

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. In other news, SCOTUS just ruled 8-1 that strip searching a student for ibuprofen was unconstitutional. Two judges dissented in part on the issue of liability (the majority ruled that admin was shielded from liability). Only Clarence Thomas thought it was a-ok.

    This is my shocked face. 😐

  2. LMNOP,

    We’re talking about it in the Morning Links thread I believe.

  3. I swear, in most people’s minds, rape is part and parcel of a prison sentence, kind of like wearing orange jumpsuits and having lights out at 9. Sickening.

  4. “don’t allow cross-gender observation of nude prisoners”

    But what if the prison guard is gay?

  5. “I swear, in most people’s minds, rape is part and parcel of a prison sentence, kind of like wearing orange jumpsuits and having lights out at 9. Sickening.”

    I agree it is sickening. One way to combat this kind of thinking is to point out that wrongly convicted prisoners also get raped. Also, even if you think smoking marijuana should be illegal, do you think rape is the proper punishment for such a crime?

  6. “I swear, in most people’s minds, rape is part and parcel of a prison sentence, kind of like wearing orange jumpsuits and having lights out at 9. Sickening.”

    I’d say you’re right.

  7. With apologies to J sub D…

    What. The. Fuck. Six goddamn years ago a commission was formed with the explicit task of coming up with ideas to reduce instances of prison rape. More than 2000 fucking days later, they come up with “don’t tolerate prison rape”?!?

    Whose boss would accept this quarter-assed fuckwittery? If I was asked to put together a report today on reducing travel mileage expenses, and six fucking years went by before I told my boss “be more efficient with travel”, I’ll give you two guesses where my career would be.

    I hate this shit-stained worthless government and every single cockface in it. Just like “good” cops who won’t fight to kick the jackbooters out, every single leech on the Hill is culpable.

    FUCK.

  8. Step two: put your junk in that box.

  9. For the past several years, I’ve felt prison reform is the most overlooked political issue facing the country.

  10. Rape, along with AIDs, Hepatitis and Tuberculosis is an integral part of the prison experience. It can’t nor shouldn’t be eliminated, it is part of the punishment, these are criminals after all, who cares what happens to them. If they don’t want to be raped they should obey the law.

  11. If they don’t want to be raped they should obey the law.

    That’s what I told the girl I caught picking flowers in my yard.

  12. “If they don’t want to be raped they should obey the law.”

    Yeah! And they shouldn’t dress so sexy either!

  13. And when I went to download the report itself, I got: “File is damaged and could not be repaired.”

    That’s got to be like some sub-section of RC’s Law.

  14. Nice efforts, but back to reality:

    Prisons are filled with people who are there because they show total disregard for social rules.

    Therefore, expect rape.

    Prison guard is a rough profession. Expect it to be hard to find responsible people to fill the role.

    So prisons are hell, as they’ve always been hell, on every continent.

  15. I don’t think the prison abuse [not just rape] problem will be solved, or that the ongoing problem of abuse of children in state care will be solved, until we codify some sort of civil responsibility for the state for persons it takes as wards into its care.

    It has to be made more expensive for the state to fail to properly protect the people whose lives it asserts the right to manage than it would be to do what would be necessary to succeed.

  16. “Oh, he’s not a boy anymore…he’s a man. Because he just raped me!”

  17. “So prisons are hell, as they’ve always been hell, on every continent.”

    Well then, fuck. Let’s give up.

  18. I figure the percentage of prisoners who are unjustly incarcerated is probably about the same as the percentage of bad cops.

  19. If anyone I knew said prison rape was OK, I wouldn’t have a whole lot of trouble telling them that I didn’t really want to hang out with anyone who thought that way.

    Brett Stevens, we already know you’re a Nazi. There are some comments that can safely be ignored.

  20. Is it just me or is Godwinning a thread happening faster and faster these days?

  21. The only way to combat it is for whoever posts first to type NAZI at the bottom of their post. It’s like setting a backfire.

  22. Let’s just make prison rape illegal. That’ll stop ’em!

  23. SugarFree,

    So you’re suggesting destroying the thread to save it? I like it.

  24. To recap: … don’t hire people with a history of sexual abuse, …

    If these suggestions seem obvious to you…well, they should.

    Except reason? is usually against restrictions on “people with a history of sexual abuse,” so I wouldn’t call it obvious to them.

  25. …against restrictions on “people with a history of sexual abuse,” — citation needed.

  26. Don’t forget about kicking puppies and hating rainbows.

  27. “Except reason? is usually against restrictions on “people with a history of sexual abuse,” so I wouldn’t call it obvious to them.”

    Is that a drinking offense?

  28. CN,

    He’s refering to the fact that REASON has had articles in the past that is critical of laws that subject “sexual predators” to probably unconstitutional limits on their movements.

  29. Is it really Godwinning when someone calls a nazi a nazi? Seems to me it’s just stating a fact.

  30. The only other reasonable solution I can think of is for me to into the prisons and perform oral sex on everyone, both guards and inmates, who want it. They will be sexually satisfied and therefore will no longer have the urge to rape anyone.

    I do this because I love America

  31. Did they really spell “separately” wrong in the report?

  32. It has to be made more expensive for the state to fail to properly protect the people whose lives it asserts the right to manage than it would be to do what would be necessary to succeed.

    When has cost ever been a primary factor in decision making by the state? The guy whose testimony Flanigen linked to is on a medication cocktail to treat his AIDS which arose from the HIV he was forcibly exposed to while in prison. That treatment is expensive as all hell and paid for by the state, yet no one in a position of power will ever link cause with effect.

  33. I figure the percentage of prisoners who are unjustly incarcerated is probably about the same as the percentage of bad cops.

    So, up in the 80-90% range?

  34. ‘Strict limits on cross-gender searches’

    These theocratic right-wingers just won’t give up, will they? Don’t you know that gender is socially constructed, and that any attempt to separate people into either/or binary categories of ‘male’ and ‘female’ simply reifies the oppressive heteronormative oppressive establishment?

  35. Rape, along with AIDs, Hepatitis and Tuberculosis is an integral part of the prison experience. It can’t nor shouldn’t be eliminated, it is part of the punishment, these are criminals after all, who cares what happens to them. If they don’t want to be raped they should obey the law.

    Hi, juanita. We missed you.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.