ifeminists.com: A central gathering place and information center for individualist feminists.   -- explore the new feminism --
introduction | interaction | information

ifeminists.com > introduction > editorials

Letter of the Week: Prison Rape
September 23, 2003

Prison-rape IS a serious crime of our society and I commend you for being brave enough to broach it. It causes many other crimes facilitated by its victims, for years and maybe generations to come.

It does NOT occur because tax supported employees of our prisons are unaware of it ... it occurs because those employees are willing to be favored by the offending prisoners, in exchange for turning a blind eye. These prison staff are more concerned about their paychecks and pension plans, than about their job performance. They are protected by major unions, so never become accountable.

Our prisons are not run by our government employees ... they are run by prisoners, who operate on a seniority basis. Society does not care because everyone believes that we are not touched by what goes on behind those "secure" walls; while it is precisely the opposite that is true.

The only chance of survival without rape that a prisoner appears to have, anywhere in North America, is to tick-off a guard sufficiently to warrant being moved to solitary confinement as punishment. Then he must ensure that he stays there for the duration of his incarceration.

Those prisoners, upon release, can never pick up their old lives; can never resume life with their families, as it once was. They now have a new family, thanks to their new perspective on life. They now belong to a family of ex-cons; who become their support group.

Unfortunately, to get away from prison abuse, most of those incarcerated accept parole ... and parole means that they are not allowed to mix with ex-cons ... their only peer group in their 'new' life.

We, who have never been to prison, who have been traumatized by some event, are all allowed and encouraged to seek out a peer group, to help us through such a period of transition in our lives.

Prisoners, who often come from the least fortunate in our society, are not allowed this same free benefit ... and since their need is as great as any other human beings', they take the risk and mix with their peers, and hope not to be caught ... because being caught means a return to prison and an extended sentence.

It's a vicious circle, starting with the prison staff who take the pay-offs and continuing right into society.

Nothing will ever change until, as a society, we are willing to admit that it exists and we are willing to allow the changes needed to break the circle that we have created. That will mean that society will have to accept responsibility for what is going on, and that we will have to begin to fight the strong-armed unions who protect the prison staff, who themselves have become criminals.

The system exists as it is now, greatly due to the fact that the squeaky wheel gets the grease ... and as a society, we have accepted 'lobbying' as a means of trading a vote for a vote ... I lobby my government representative to vote for what I want; and in exchange I give him/her my vote ... to ensure they continue in their 'upper class' world.

Prisoners and/or ex-cons dare not become squeaky wheels. They would be ostracized in the media for daring to claim the same rights afforded most human beings in North America.

On some scores, we've come a long way ... on others, we haven't even scratched the surface. I do believe President Bush has now scratched the surface of this abscess in our society ... but the road ahead still remains a long one, with many detours to repair.

ifeminists.com > home | introduction | interaction | information | about

ifeminists.com is edited by Wendy McElroy; it is made possible by support from The Independent Institute and members like you.