Afraid of rape in prison? Then don't commit the crime! (Crapola, sez I)

Several times recently I have noticed people referring to prison rape as though it an acceptable form of punishment, and that anyone who commits a crime and ends up in prison deserves what they get.

Admittedly, some of these people may not be Americans. But to the Americans I say: WHAT?

Look, this really shouldn’t require a great deal of debate, since it’s obvious: our constitution frowns on cruel and unusual punishment…and I think rape falls under that heading. Permitting (even encouraging!) rape in prison, is making rape a de facto punishment for just about any and every crime. Escaping that punishment is dependent on the given inmate’s toughness, and avoiding that punishment frequently turns an otherwise relatively mild-mannered convict into a much more dangerous person. (What makes the whole thing even more absurd is that the inmates * most * likely to be victimized by rapists are usually the * least * likely to be “deserving”, if we are measuring deserving by the severity or violence of the crime committed by the victim-inmate. )

It is sick, twisted and simply wrong to take the attitude that anyone who commits a crime deserves to be raped, or that it’s acceptable that they be raped.

The founder of Stop Prisoner Rape was a perfect example of why tolerating prison rape is barbaric, and his experience undercuts any claim we might make to being champions of judicial fairness or human rights. He was arrested for unlawful assembly at a Quaker Pray-In anti-war demonstration, didn’t pay the bail out of principal , and ultimately ended up being raped 60 times in a two-day period.

I fell in love with a guy who embezzled $16 from his employer when he was 17 years old, and because he was unprotected from rape in the adult prison he was sent to, ended up committing murder.

It’s time we stopped putting up with this crap. It’s time we stopped BREEDING criminals in our prisons. It’s time we started trying to help the helpable become decent members of society instead of hopeless victims and degenerates that are virtually guaranteed to become even more villainous than before they went in.

I tell ya, I hold our horrible penal system responsible for a lot of murder in this country. Murders committed by sick, twisted, damaged people that had a chance before the penal system got a hold of them and “taught them a lesson”. Please.

More reading on the subject (almost all of it pretty damned disturbing, by the way):

Thanks, Stoid, nothing like being accused of being an accesory to rape and murder to make my night. Here’s a thought. Instead of blaming the penal system for making prison a bad place, you ever consider that maybe the prisoners who are commiting these rapes might have a small share of responsiblity? It’s not like we order people to extort, fight, rape, join gangs, or kill other prisoners. In fact, we make it clear to all incoming prisoners that we’re against these things.

Any civilized society must protect individuals against atrocities. A prison system in which rapes occur frequently is failing to protect its prisoners adequately.

I guess this means you are a corrections officer? Good to get your input.

What “level” of officer are you? Do you make any policy? Or do you work in some other area of prison? Are you a member of any unions? (Factoid from memory: California’s corrections officer’s union was the single biggest contributor to the campaign to pass 3 Strikes. Hmmm)

What sort of prison do you work in? Min, Max, Supermax, what? What does your prison do to facilitate rehabilitation of inmates? What does your prison do to prevent or punish rape? What does your prison do to prevent other violence, drug use, drug smuggling, etc.? “Making it clear we are against” them seems pretty vague.

Do you personally approve of the way your prison deals with the inmates? Do you feel good about the work you do and the way you do it?

None of the above is asked as an accusation. I’m sincerely inquiring about * your* experience, because while I certainly have opinions about our penal system in general, I have no idea what is going on in your particular prison.


Seriously, Stoid’s stance is 100% correct. Although I might’ve worded it differently, the facts are that many people in this country think it’s “just desserts” for those who get sent to prison. And for some people, they’re willing to specify for which crimes they think it’s just desserts.

Also a fact: Rape is not acceptable. The prisoners are assigned to the prison for lawful punishment, not to be abandoned to the sadistic whims of barbarians.


Crapola indeed. This is a serious issue that isn’t treated all that seriously. Most of the time when I hear references to rape in prison it is either in the form of a joke or a wish of harm to a particular inmate. I don’t hear many other jokes about rape outside of prison.


I agree. Most of the people who go into prison are going to be coming out at some point in their lives. Do we want people coming out of prison who have been brutalized and severly alienated from the rest of society? Nope.


Villainous? Have you been reading my old Batman comics? I do think there are people who won’t ever become decent members of society. But I really hate the fact that our penal system contributes to some of that. There are some people who theorize the men who dragged James Byrd, Jr. to death in Texas became as bad as they were in the Texas penal system. Sorry I don’t happen to have a cite handy but maybe someone else remembers hearing the same thing.

I’ve never worked in a prison but maybe someone here has. Why is it so difficult to keep inmates from killing and raping one another? Is it a matter of manpower, funding, training, or something else I’m not thinking of? I realize that there will probably always be rape, murder, and other crimes within the walls of a prison but I would like to see something done to curtail these things.


If you are sentenced to X years in prison, then that’s what you are sentenced to. If you get raped/beaten up/whatever by some animal during that time, you should have the right to sue the state to hell and back - that wasn’t part of your sentence. If the state wants you to be raped as part of your punishment it should make that clear in the penal code.

I’m not a big fan of criminals - let them be woken up at 6am, eat an all-vegetable diet and be put to work producing license plates, furniture for schools, etc etc etc. But being forcibly sodomized by other inmates doesn’t come into it. There is no way this should be tolerated.

That last link is plain weird, Are white supremacists concerned about this issue too? :confused:


This vegetarian got quite a laugh out of your considering my chosen diet to be a punishment.

Oh,wait. You didn’t say “all vegetarian.” You said “all vegetable.” That’s not a healthy diet. They really need to get some fruits and nuts, plus a few other things also.

I agree with Stoid, et al. Being sentenced to prison does not include rape as part of the sentence. Hemlock said what I was gonna say almost to the word.

And, just in case, the founder of Stop Prison Rape (Stephen Donaldson) is/was NOT the same Stephen Donaldson who wrote the Thomas Covenant books.


Thank you, Fenris. That question has been torturing me ever since I learned how to cross-reference.

I can’t imagine you will get a reasoned response that actually advocates prison rape. You may get a joke, or an off the cuff vengeful statement to that effect, but I have yet to find my local chapter of CFMPR (Citizens For More Prison Rape).

Fenris, then how do you explain the thank you to Foamfollower in his new phamplet "No More Rape in Prison or in The Land.

I see this problem as similar to the problems public schools have with bullying and violence. They seem ill equipped to deal with the problems effectively.

I suspect this is more by accident than by design. It appears doubtful that teachers want kids to be bullied, or that the people who run prisons want the inmates to be raped.

However, the lack of meaningful action to DO something about it is tragic, and troublesome on more than one level.

IMHO it would be ethically more acceptable for the prison systems to purposely torture people. At least that would imply forethought in the process.
Prison rape appears to be a biproduct of the current system. This makes it arbitrary, and not carried out with purpose. To me it sounds like a good approximation of hell.

In the book “Silence of the Lambs” Dr. Lecter has his toilet seat and books confiscated while in the asylum. He tells Clarice Starling that a civilized society would either kill him or let him have his books.

We appear to be letting things happen to people, instead of making things happen (good or bad). This is the wrong way to deal with people, in prison or anywhere else.

Don’t laugh too much. Piers Anthony decided to eulogize Stephen (Thomas Covenant) Donaldson upon the death of Stephen (SPR) Donaldson. In part, Anthony said that Stephen (Covenant)'s experiences with prison rape had led him to write the (in)famous rape scene in the first book. Took him like 2 months to put up a retraction (since he updated his site every two months). :rolleyes:


OK, Not for the first time, I’m being a bit hasty with my choice of words - “no luxuries” would have been more accurate. Here in Hong Kong you get (I am told) rice and greens and fruit in prison, plus the odd bit of fish or meat. Healthiest diet going. Much-arrested animal rights folk PETA gave the HK prison system 5 stars in their consumers’ guide to world jails for this. That’s basically my diet too (plus beer) - but it’s punishment to some.

well, this is quite a welcome shock. Here I was ready, primed and raring to go, and I walk in and I see notable conservatives agreeing with the OP .

So, where are the marshmellows and Kum-ba-ya lyrics?

Seriously, I see that phrase all the time around here “don’t like it, don’t commit the crime” . Frankly if that’s the stance, then why do we have guards at all, just airlift 'em all to Alcatraz and be done with it. This acceptance of prison rape as a natural, unavoidable consequence of imprisonment (and therefore should be part of the ‘deterance’ factor of law enforecement process), is abhorant. It puts the prisoners in charge of the punishment. This is **not ** a ‘good thing’ [sup]tm[/sup]

And, a word or two about prison sentences being deterance in the first place. For those of us who find the entire concept of going to jail terrifying to the extreme, well, ya know what? just the thought of it works.

But for others, who may be have mental illnesses, substance abuse issues, or have seen first hand scores of folks who commit crimes, don’t get caught, or rarely get caught, folks who’ve come back from jail/prison and make light of it, it doesn’t work at all well.

I am particularly interested in hearing responses from ivylass and D_Odds. The former definitely said, “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime” in response to my mention of prison rape (and how that is not included in the sentence, yadda yadda), and the latter, well… I just want to hear the response.

The state assigns a punishment. The treatment the prisoner receives is not considered in this punishment. Thus, the prisoner is punished more than what the state felt was a fair manner for his crimes. Seems like a rather cut-and-dry case, and yet, you do hear that a lot, don’t you? Can’t do the time, blah blah blah.

I think there is a sexist element to it as well: if we mixed male and female prisoners together and women were coming forward complaining about being raped 60 times in a 48 hour period, it would be in the national news.

As a society we tend to be dismissive of male rape. I really am not sure why: I suspect some of it has to do with homophobia, where the idea of being raped makes men so uncomfortable that they don’t want to deal with it, they want to brush it under the rug and pretend it never happened. When they can’t do that, the next step is to dehumanize the guy getting raped as much as possible, so as to make it clear that rape happens only to guys like him–convicts–not “guys like me”. This sounds a bit to post-modern for my taste, but what I’m getting at is that empathizing too much with a male rape victem may make some men feel that they, themselves, are vunralble to rape.

A large chunk of it. To generalize to the as a society level, I think we tend to be dismissive of male brutality–both as victims and perpetrators. (A mother killing her children is controversial front-page news; a father killing his children is a sad back-pages story. On the victim side, rape.) To some extent, it’s expected, which is rather sad. Subtle (or sometimes not-so-subtle) sexism and homophobia do go hand-in-hand, I think.

I’m not at all sure what can be done to fix the problem–since so many don’t view it as one. But it is.

(Stoid gazes around the room at who is agreeing with her…) I must be REALLY right…:smiley:

It’s wonderful to see so many people of very different political stripes understanding how deeply wrong this situation is.

Now to the cure…

It isn’t possible to cure prison rape in isolation from all the other problems of prisons. You can’t magically stop rape while leaving all the other fucked-up social dynamics in place.

Therefore, to cure the problem of prison rape, you have to reform the penal system, from the ground up, starting with the basic theories of punishment. We have to reconsider what our goal is, as a society, in having prisons.

Certainly people who break the law, especially if they are harming others in the process, must be stopped somehow. But unless you are planning to lock them up until they die, it is shortsighted and ultimately self-destructive to our entire society to take a “Screw 'em” attitude towards them. Because most of them are coming out again. It really is greatly within our power to determine who they are when they return: decent human beings who want to join society in a peaceful, prodcutive capacity, or criminals who will be out just long enough to hurt society some more.

It may not be as “satisfying” to treat prisoners with dignity and respect, and help them improve themselves so that they don’t re-offend, but what do we want as our end result?

Personally, I want fewer criminals. Our current penal system is giving us more.