Monday, April 23, 2007

The "Problem" of Prison Rape

Another great post (if one can say such a thing) about prison rape by Ankush at Ezra Klein's place. They relay the following story:
Tom Cahill, a former president of Stop Prisoner Rape, was arrested during the Vietnam War for civil disobedience. An ideologically unsympathetic jailer put him in a cell with known sexual predators, telling them he was a child molester, and that if they "took care of him" they'd get extra rations of jello. For the next twenty-four hours Tom was gang-raped. He has never fully recovered from this.

I read a story like this and all I can thing of is that the rapists:the jailer::the murderer:the getaway driver. Well, that's not entirely accurate--sometimes the getaway driver doesn't know that his partner has committed a murder. Here, the jailer was the mastermind behind the rape. That man should be in jail, and he should be there for the rest of his natural life.

Here's the thing, though--prison rape really isn't that difficult to get under control, if we're willing to be serious about it:
To some extent, stopping prisoner rape is simply an issue of better prison management. In facilities where the chief official cares about it, and ensures that his or her subordinates take it seriously, rates of sexual abuse go down dramatically. This is accomplished by, for example, providing vulnerable inmates with nonpunitive protective housing at their request, and establishing confidential complaint systems that encourage inmates to report sexual violence without increasing their risk of future assault or retaliation, from any party.

Ankush finishes it off:
There's more, but the takeaway is that none of the solutions would be particularly difficult to implement were there the political will and appropriate funding in place. If our government officials simply stopped ignoring this problem -- which isn't so much a "problem" as a series of ongoing and widespread human rights abuses occurring within our own borders -- it could probably be brought to an end (or as close to an end as such things can go) in fairly short order.


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