Skip to comments.No Escape: Male Rape In U.S. Prisons
Posted on 02/12/2007 11:22:29 AM PST by B-Chan
"I've been sentenced for a D.U.I. offense. My 3rd one. When I first came to prison, I had no idea what to expect. Certainly none of this. I'm a tall white male, who unfortunately has a small amount of feminine characteristics. And very shy. These characteristics have got me raped so many times I have no more feelings physically. I have been raped by up to 5 black men and two white men at a time. I've had knifes at my head and throat. I had fought and been beat so hard that I didn't ever think I'd see straight again. One time when I refused to enter a cell, I was brutally attacked by staff and taken to segragation though I had only wanted to prevent the same and worse by not locking up with my cell mate. There is no supervision after lockdown. I was given a conduct report. I explained to the hearing officer what the issue was. He told me that off the record, He suggests I find a man I would/could willingly have sex with to prevent these things from happening. I've requested protective custody only to be denied. It is not available here. He also said there was no where to run to, and it would be best for me to accept things . . . . I probably have AIDS now. I have great difficulty raising food to my mouth from shaking after nightmares or thinking to hard on all this . . . . I've laid down without physical fight to be sodomized. To prevent so much damage in struggles, ripping and tearing. Though in not fighting, it caused my heart and spirit to be raped as well. Something I don't know if I'll ever forgive myself for."
The letter excerpted above was one of the first to reach Human Rights Watch in response to a small announcement posted in Prison Legal News and Prison Life Magazine, two publications with a wide audience in U.S. prisons. Having been alerted to the problem of prisoner-on-prisoner rape in the United States by the work of activists like Stephen Donaldson of the organization Stop Prisoner Rape, we had decided to conduct exploratory research into the topic and had put a call out to prisoners for information. The resulting deluge of letters--many of which included compelling firsthand descriptions such as this--convinced us that the issue merited urgent attention. Rape, by prisoners' accounts, was no aberrational occurrence; instead it was a deeply-rooted, systemic problem. It was also a problem that prison authorities were doing little to address.
The present report--the product of three years of research and well over a thousand inmate letters--describes the complex dynamics of male prisoner-on-prisoner sexual abuse in the United States. The report is an effort to explain why and how such abuse occurs, who commits it and who falls victim to it, what are its effects, both physical and psychological, how are prison authorities coping with it and, most importantly, what reforms can be instituted to better prevent it from occurring.
The Scope of this Report
This report is limited in scope to male prisoner-on-prisoner sexual abuse in the United States. It does not cover women prisoners, nor does it cover the sexual abuse of male prisoners by their jailers. Human Rights Watch investigated the problem of custodial sexual misconduct in U.S. women's prisons in two previous reports and the issue has been a continuing focus of our U.S. advocacy efforts. As to custodial sexual misconduct against male prisoners, we decided not to include that topic within the scope of this report even though some prisoners who claimed to have been subject to such abuse did contact us. An initial review of the topic convinced us that it involved myriad issues that were distinct from the topic at hand, which is complicated enough in itself.
Even though the notices that Human Rights Watch circulated to announce our research on prisoner-on-prisoner sexual abuse were written in gender-neutral language, we received no information from women prisoners regarding the problem. As prison experts are well aware, penal facilities for men and women tend to differ in important respects. If the problem of prisoner-on-prisoner sexual abuse exists in women's institutions--a possibility we do not exclude--it is likely to take somewhat different forms than in men's prisons.
For several reasons, the primary focus of this report is on sexual abuse in prisons, rather than jails. Most importantly, all of our information save a handful of letters came from prison as opposed to jail inmates. Many of these prisoners did, however, describe sexual abuses they had suffered when previously held in jails, allowing us to gather some information on the topic. Nonetheless, the bulk of our prisoner testimonies and documentation--and all of the information we collected from state authorities--pertain specifically to prisons. Already, with fifty separate state prison jurisdictions in the United States, the task of collecting official information was difficult; obtaining such information from the many thousands of local authorities responsible for city and county jails would have been infinitely more so. Yet we should emphasize that our lack of specific research on jails should be not interpreted as suggesting that the problem does not occur there. Although little research has been done on sexual assault in jails, the few commentators who have examined the topic have found the abuse to be similarly or even more prevalent there.
It is evident to Human Rights Watch, even without having completed exhaustive research into the jail context, that the problems we describe with regard to prisons generally hold true for jails as well. This conclusion derives from the fact that most of the risk factors leading to rape exist in prisons and jails alike. We therefore believe that our recommendations for reform are largely applicable in the jail context, and we urge jail authorities to pay increased attention to the issue of prisoner-on-prisoner sexual abuse.
While this report does not deal specifically with juvenile institutions, we note that previous research, while extremely scanty, suggests that inmate-on-inmate sexual abuse may be even more common in juvenile institutions than it is in facilities for adults. Indeed, a case filed recently by the U.S. Justice Department in federal court to challenge conditions in a Louisiana juvenile institution includes serious allegations of inmate-on-inmate rape.
Finally, our choice of U.S. prisons as the subject of this research, over prisons elsewhere in the world, in no way indicates that we believe the problem to be unique to the United States. On the contrary, our international prison research convinces us that prisoner-on-prisoner rape is of serious concern around the world. We note that several publications on human rights or prison conditions in other countries have touched on or explored the topic, as have past Human Rights Watch prison reports.(8) Interestingly, researchers outside of the United States have reached many of the same conclusions as researchers here, suggesting that specific cultural variables are not determinative with regard to rape in prison.(9)
The report is primarily based on information collected from over 200 prisoners spread among thirty-seven states. The majority of these inmates have been raped or otherwise sexually abused while in prison, and were therefore able to give firsthand accounts of the problem. Numerous inmates who were not subject to sexual abuse also provided their views on the topic, including information about sexual assaults that they had witnessed. A very small number of inmates who had themselves participated in rape also contributed their perspectives. Much of the information was received via written correspondence, although Human Rights Watch representatives spoke by telephone with a number of prisoners, and personally interviewed twenty-six of them. Prisoner testimonies were supplemented by documentary materials such as written grievances, court papers, letters, and medical records.
Prisoners were contacted using several different methods. Human Rights Watch posted announcements in a number of publications and leaflets that reach prisoners--including Prison Legal News, Prison Life Magazine (which has since ceased publication), and Florida Prison Legal Perspectives--informing them that we were conducting research on the topic of prisoner-on-prisoner sexual abuse and that we welcomed their information. Several organizations that work with prisoners, including Stop Prisoner Rape, put us in contact with additional inmates.
The prisoners who collaborated in our efforts were thus a largely self-selected group, not a random sampling. Previous researchers have conducted quantitative studies using statistically valid techniques in certain U.S. prisons -- most recently, in 1998 in seven midwestern state prison systems -- but, given that there are some two million prisoners in the United States, this would be difficult to achieve on a national scale. The research on which the present report was based was thus qualitative in nature: it sought to identify systemic weaknesses rather than to quantify actual cases of abuse. The result, we believe, sketches the outlines of a national problem, bridging the gap between academic research on the topic and the more anecdotal writings that occasionally appear in the popular press.
The prisoners with whom Human Rights Watch was in contact, we should emphasize, did not simply serve as a source of case material. Rather, their comments and insights--based on firsthand knowledge and close observation--inform every page of the report.
Besides prisoners, we also obtained valuable information from prison officials, prison experts, lawyers who represent prisoners, prisoners rights organizations, and prisoners' relatives. Written materials including academic studies, books, and articles from the popular press supplemented these sources. In addition, Human Rights Watch conducted an extensive review of the case law relevant to prison rape in the United States.
"I've been sentenced for a D.U.I. offense. My 3rd one."
Was: "I ran out of sympathy about right there..."
So, with that we are to take it that you think he deserved what he got when he got raped, repeatedly.
I just can't imagine any true conservative believing in a sentence for a crime that says: "we hereby sentence you to 15 years of nightly rape orgies with you as the victim". Because that is what your knowledge combined with your lack of "sympathy" says. Only its not lack of sympathy, its lack of basic, instinctual human compassion.
I've heard the same thing however the police love this particular urban legend. Nothing gets a suspect singing faster than the threat of being raped in jail.
I'm sure it does happen depending on the jail but if you put many criminals together in one location you're going to experience all kinds of crime, rape being one of them.
I suppose this has happened to you over and over because "it's very easy" for that to happen? I doubt it.
We need many more men like Sheriff Joe Aparo running American prisons.
unless your an illegal....
I know a real good guy who went to prison for the lies of his wife. He didn't deserve it. He also didn't deserve to get raped and killed there. He violaed no laws, but was convicted by a scumbag DA on the lies of his wife.
"Capital punishment turns the state into a murderer. But imprisonment turns the state into a gay dungeon-master.
I'm pro-death penalty but definitely anti-rape in prison. this is one instance where I wonder if anybody has tried to sue the government on violating the "cruel and unusual" punishment clause due to rape.
And yes this is why I never would do anything that would put me in jail. You may say this is a deterring practice, to me it shows that if I ever decide to break the law, it will be by doing something that damn well guarantees to get me the death penalty.
Right, he deserves to be gangraped......nice. :sheesh:
Admirable ... but beside the point. Even if you were in there for murder and sentenced to death, the State has an obligation to ensure that you are not beaten, raped, or murdered while in its custody.
And they very well might. You could ask Irv Rubin about it, but it's a little hard after he "cut his own throat" and then just happened to jump off a railing in federal prison.
Tell that to the Duke LAX players that very nearly ended up in prison for a long time (might still do some time).
Nobody ends up in Federal prison for a 3rd time DUI. This letter is obviously fake, and the offense, DUI, was picked in order for it to be a "it could happen to you" situation for the reader.
All the race based gangs are evil,including the white ones.
Why is that even an issue?
"I've been sentenced for a D.U.I. offense. My 3rd one." He learned nothing about the first and second time? The guy is not too bright and sorry, but I can't muster up any empathy about a rape in prison story, when they start off the story about a guy and it being his 3rd DUI offense. The guy could have wiped out an entire family or more, while he carelessly drove in a drunken stupor for the 3rd time.
prison is prison whether it's city, county, state or federal.
Don't violate the law. Don't get thrown in prison.
Yeah, I mean we wouldn't actually want to FIX the prison system....
"Where are you going to go where no one can hear you scream in a prison?"
You assume that stifling those screams will be necessary. And keep in mind that some guards rape, too.
The part in bold may be one of the dumber things I've ever seen posted here.
Then you must not read your own posts. Ever heard of the Texas Three?
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