Sexual Violence in Prison Is Not Funny
Rape is Not Part of the Penalty
By Dexter Yarbrough. Quite often, many of us chuckle or laugh at jokes about "Bubba" and what he will do to his new roommate in prison. Many people have no sympathy for criminals on their way into the penal system and feel that they will "get what they deserve," meaning raped. Like many of you reading this, I love a good laugh. However, rape or sexual assault in any way, shape or form is no laughing matter.
What made me decide to write about this is a hub written by a fellow hubber a couple of weeks ago. It has been on my mind ever since I read it. Her hub addresses the problems of rape in America's prison and jail systems. It is a fascinating article, which discusses the major issues concerning sexual violence in prison. What bothered me was a flippant remark by a person making a comment suggesting that "if you can't do the time, don't do the crime." I have not included the hub because I didn't want to embarrass the person making the comment.
Before I continue, let me say that I am not an apologists for criminals. If they commit acts against "the People," they should be prepared to suffer the consequences. By "consequences," I mean the legal penalty handed down. Where is it written that sexual violence against an inmate is justice?
Sexual Violence is Not About Sex
According to the Bureau of Justice (BJS), an estimated 60,500 inmates report experiencing sexual violence ranging from unwanted touching to non-consensual sex. This is "reported" cases.
While anyone can become the victim of sexual violence, those more likely to be victimized are generally younger than their assailants, mentally ill or intellectually impaired, gay, incarcerated for the first time and/or incarcerated for nonviolent offenses. Sexual violence behind bars is a widespread human rights crisis in prisons and jails across the United States. Twenty percent of inmates in men's prisons are sexually abused at some point during their incarceration. One in four female inmates are victimized at the worst institutions.
Criminals deserve to serve their time in jail or prison. Sexual assault and sexual intimidation is not a part of the sentence.
Where is the Outcry?
The data provided by the BJS only represents a fraction of the true number of detainees victimized, especially of those held in county jails. Criminals are human beings and deserve the basic human rights of protection while in custody. Quite often, survivors can be abused relentlessly, sometimes for a long time and be marked for attacks by other prisoners. In some cases, prisoners are treated like the perpetrators' property and "sold" within the facility.
In prisons and jails throughout the United States, simple preventive measures are rarely taken and reports of rape are often ignored. According to the BJS, in the worst facilities, corrections officials facilitate or participate in sexual violence, respond to inmates' cries for help with laughter and grant perpetrators impunity.
Is this justice? What about those that are truly innocent and wrongly convicted? Are they getting what they deserve? What if it were your daughter, son, husband, wife, mother, father? Would it still be a laughing matter?
Survivors of sexual violence behind bars experience the same emotional pain as other rape victims. The absence of counseling in the aftermath of an assault causes many prisoners to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and drug addictions. Also, the high rates of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases in detention place incarcerated survivors at great risk for infection.
Once released, survivors bring their emotional trauma and medical conditions back to their communities, including yours. Many attempt to put the past behind them, however, these same psychological and medical conditions exist. These people are or may become members of our families, causing more damage to loving homes.
Whether committed by staff or by fellow inmates, sexual assault behind bars is a form of torture that violates international human rights, as well as the United States Constitution. When the government incarcerates someone, it takes on the responsibility to protect that person's safety. In federal court cases, the US Government has recognized that sexual violence in prison can amount to cruel and unusual punishment, in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.
Whether it be a woman facing four men in a dark alley or a man facing four men in a prison cell, sexual violence is not a laughing matter. It amazes me how supposedly "good" people, especially those that claim to have some measure of faith in a supreme being, forget about justice.
There are rightfully convicted persons in prison and jail. And there are wrongfully convicted people in prison and jail. Whatever the case, would it still be funny if you had to face a group of rapists with the intent to commit sexual violence upon your person? Yep. Just what I thought. It ain't a laughing matter.
Rape is not part of the penalty.
Dexter Yarbrough - Copyright © 2012. All Rights Reserved.
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