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By Margaret Winter, Associate Director, ACLU National Prison Project. Margaret gave testimony to the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission, and served on the Commission's Standards Development Expert Committee. She also testified on the subject of prison rape to the Commission on Safety and Abuse in America's Prisons.

Tuesday's release of the bipartisan National Prison Rape Elimination Commission (NPREC) report called vividly to mind dozens of horrendous prison rape cases the ACLU has investigated that were immunized from legal challenge by a 1996 federal law, the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) — a law which too often slams the federal court house doors in rape victims' faces.

The announced purpose of the PLRA was to curb the filing of frivolous prisoner litigation. In reality, the PLRA makes it almost impossible for most prisoners to file any civil rights claims regardless of the merits: Prisoners are forever barred from seeking redress of their most fundamental constitutional and human rights in federal court unless, within a very few days of the violation, they can successfully navigate a maze of arcane, arbitrary and intricate internal grievance rules set by prison officials — rules which civil rights lawyers themselves often find baffling.

The PLRA has an especially harsh impact on victims of prison rape, as the ACLU has discovered time and again in interviews of scores of rape victims in prisons and jails around the country. It was the stuff of nightmares to discover (especially in Texas, which at least until recently deserved the name of Prison Rape Capital of the nation) how many young men are forced into prostitution by violent prison gangs (PDF). It is even more chilling to find out that the common response of prison officials to the victims' desperate pleas for protection is to tell them their only two options were to "fight or fuck."

It is equally horrific to discover how commonplace it is for women and men — especially those who are young, gay, mentally ill or otherwise especially vulnerable — to be sexually abused, and sometimes brutally raped, by custodial staff who then warn them that if they report the assault they will be disbelieved, punished and set up on bogus charges that would lengthen their prison terms by years. It is nothing short of heartbreaking to have to tell these men, women and youth that they have no right to go to federal court because, while they were still reeling, trembling and bleeding from sexual assault, they did not manage to fill out the proper forms in the proper order.  

Adding immeasurably to the pain and degradation of the rape is the ban on access to the federal courts. Federal civil rights litigation against officials who perpetrate or are complicit in prison rape serves a profoundly important purpose for the individual victim, but beyond that it vindicates the community's rights: Federal civil rights litigation is a uniquely powerful and effective tool for opening windows into the dark closed worlds of prisons and jails, and letting in the light.

For over a decade, the ACLU has opposed the provisions of the PLRA that put up virtually insurmountable hurdles to prisoners seeking redress in federal courts for inhumane treatment. The National Prison Rape Elimination Commission's report agrees on the critical importance of reforming the PLRA. The report not only confirms the massiveness of the problem of prison rape and proposes national standards to eliminate prison rape, it also calls on Congress to reform the statute so that prison rape victims may petition the courts for vindication of their basic constitutional rights.

After the death last year of  legislation introduced in the House by Representatives Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and John Conyers (D-Mich.) that would have addressed the worst problems created by the PLRA, time is of the essence. No victim of sexual abuse should ever be left helpless and hopeless. It is critical that Congress act now to restore the rule of law to our prisons by reforming the PLRA.

Originally posted to ACLU on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 08:48 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  this is why I donate to you guys (11+ / 0-)

      you care about things that get very little sympathy, even from us "lefties"

      What should we do.

      •  What you can do (0+ / 0-)

        If you want more information on the problems created by the PLRA for rape victims in prison, visit the SAVE Coalition. The SAVE Coalition is a group of   organizations and individuals dedicated to protecting the U.S. prison, jail and youth detention population — a group that is increasingly vulnerable to violence and abuse since the 1996 enactment of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA). Members of the SAVE Coalition have studied the impact of the PLRA and developed proposed reforms to the law that do not interfere with its stated purpose: to reduce frivolous litigation by prisoners. Among the groups most adversely affected by the restrictions imposed by the PLRA are juveniles, who could never be considered "frivolous" litigators in the first place. The SAVE Coalition's proposed reforms seek to preserve the rule of law in America's jails, prisons, and youth detention centers and to protect adult and juvenile prisoners from   rape, assault, denials of religious freedom, and other constitutional violations by fixing the unintended consequences of the PLRA.

        If you want to take ACTION to support reform of the PLRA, please contact members of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security.  In particular, contact the Chair of the Committee and original co-sponsor of a PLRA reform bill in the last Congress, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va):

        Washington Office
        1201 Longworth HOB
        Washington, DC 20515
        202/225-8351

        Richmond Area Office
        501 N. 2nd Street, Suite 401
        Richmond, VA 23219-1321
        804-644-4845

        Also contact the Ranking Member of the Committee, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas):
        Washington Office
        511 Cannon HOB
        Washington, DC 20515  
        202/225-3035

        Tyler Office
        1121 ESE Loop 323, Ste   206
        Tyler, TX, 75701          

        Because freedom can't protect itself.

        by ACLU on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 08:14:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  we know about it, joke about it. threaten it. (13+ / 0-)

    and look away
    no torture here

    Republicans are walking the socio Path.

    by 88kathy on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 08:51:23 AM PDT

  •  In principle, this is an easy issue. (8+ / 0-)

    When someone is sentenced to prison, part of the sentence is not abuse of any kind, sexual or otherwise. Now, how to prevent a problem that is systematic and part of the current penal system is not so easy. Obviously more money for less crowded prisons would help, but this is not coming any time soon.

    Maybe the best way is to keep non-violent offenders out of prison, reducing population and separating the sheep from the wolves.

    I voted with my feet. Good Bye and Good Luck America!!

    by shann on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 09:01:23 AM PDT

  •  Crime is crime is crime (14+ / 0-)

    that these rapes happen inside prisons in no way relieves our society of having to do something about it.

    It is time to recognize the magnitude of this issue and act. Thanks ACLU!

    Can you help the Dog get a Netroots Scholarship? -6.25, -6.10

    by Something the Dog Said on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 09:03:39 AM PDT

  •  Not that I am in favor of prison rapes... (0+ / 0-)

    but don't we have a few more pressing issues to go after that have national significance...?

    Obama - Change I still believe in

    by dvogel001 on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 09:07:12 AM PDT

    •  any individual being (14+ / 0-)

      forcibly raped is of concern at anytime.

    •  What if it happened to you? (8+ / 0-)

      Or to someone in your family? If it were you, would you be so dismissive of rape?

      •  I am not dismissive of rape... (0+ / 0-)

        all rapes should be prosecuted...this is not about rape it is about regulations for reporting a crime when you are in prison with your rights being limited...

        Obama - Change I still believe in

        by dvogel001 on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 10:12:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  But if the rules keep it from being reported, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cjk002

          much less prosecuted, then it doesn't just affect the person in prison who was raped.

          Not everyone who commits a rape in prison is going to be someone serving a life sentence. A number of them will be released, without society ever knowing that they are rapists.

          What does it mean if someone has committed multiple prison rapes and comes up for parole without the board knowing that individual has ever even been suspected of any sex offense? There's no record of the offense, so how can they judge the potential dangers of granting parole?

          Hoping and praying that the empty chairs and empty tables in Iran when all is said and done are as few as possible.

          by Cassandra Waites on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 10:32:50 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  My understanding is the... (0+ / 0-)

            rules are in place to prevent frivolous lawsuits...prisoners are not prevented from bringing charges but there are additional hurdles that are not presented to those not convicted of a crime...

            So what is the solution...exempt rape from these rules...?

            And how do we know how much of this sexual activity is consentual...

            Obama - Change I still believe in

            by dvogel001 on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 10:37:50 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  There are (5+ / 0-)

      306,757,972 people in the U.S.A.
      we have more than enough to cover this issue and a few more .

      "...for by such conduct they bring shame, disgrace and ruin to themselves and their country." George Washington Sept 14 1775

      by indycam on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 09:16:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Like what? Rehashing Sanford's adultery (7+ / 0-)

      some more?  Contemplating Keith and Rachel's behavior?

      Please, what?

      "Most fools don't understand my worldview." - Ignatius J. Reilly

      by impygirl on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 09:19:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You sure sound like you are in favor. I can't (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Albatross, kaolin, cjk002

      believe you think this is not an issue, a national issue that affects those mostly the unprivileged who usually poor falling into drugs and crime because they don't see any future.

      That comment is a fucking bigotry and totally insensitive.

      ...We have many issues that bind us together than separates us!

      by ThisIsMyTime on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 09:35:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Abuse in prison, (6+ / 0-)

      whether it is sexual or otherwise, is one of the things that leads to recidivism. If we ignore this issue, it will only cause more crime.

      This is the same kind of shortsightedness that turns thousands of nonviolent drug offenders into career criminals. The way we run our prison system has a direct effect on crimes comitted on our streets. We ignore it at our peril.

      "When a nation's young admit to being conservative, it signals the death knell of the country." - John F. Kennedy

      by cjk002 on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 09:47:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  So if you rob a bank... (0+ / 0-)

        then get raped in prison...you will rob a bank again...tell me how that works...

        Obama - Change I still believe in

        by dvogel001 on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 10:10:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  No, but if you are 17 and steal a car or get (0+ / 0-)

          caught with a joint and it is a first-time offense,  and then you are forced to join a gang in a prison or are raped, you are far more likely to become a career criminal. There are literally thousands of stories out there from prisoners that tell a similar tale.

          The psychological effects of the abuses prisoners are subjected to by their fellow inmates is well documented, and the most convincing evidence of this effect is the fact that states with the worst prison systems (like California) have the highest recidivism rates, while states with comprehensive programs to protect prisoners from abuse and provide them with support when they leave have the lowest recidvism rates (like Nevada).

          Prison should be about rehabilitation, but instead what often happens is young people enter the system as kids and emerge as hardened criminals. I have people in my own family who have experienced it.

          Most people who are in prison aren't there for robbing banks, they are there because either economic pressure, dysfunctional families, or peer pressure has led them to act irresponsibly, usually involving drugs or petty crime.

          The punishment for committing a crime should not include being subjected to physical or sexual abuse, if we turn a blind eye to it or worse, give tacit approval because the people involved have committed crimes, then we are no better than the thugs in Iran who are rounding up protesters and making them disappear.

          "When a nation's young admit to being conservative, it signals the death knell of the country." - John F. Kennedy

          by cjk002 on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 11:08:47 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  So it was not really their fault... (0+ / 0-)

            for going to prison...it was their bad circumstances that made them do it...common'

            Not sure that you can tie prison rape to recidvism...recidvism is more a function of how much resources are given towards rehabilitation rather than punishment than how many times a prisoner is raped...

            Again, lets educate them on the process and their rights...do I think it is bad to be raped even in prison...sure...do I think this is in the top 100 priority of what the ACLU should be spending scarce resources on...not a chance...

            Obama - Change I still believe in

            by dvogel001 on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 12:06:50 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Where did I say it wasn't their fault? (0+ / 0-)

              You're intentionally distorting my point of view to bolster yours, which is intellectually dishonest.

              I gave you several examples of how violence in prison (including rape) leads to recidivism. If you don't agree, that's fine, but please try to present an argument that consists of more than just a distortion of mine.

              Prisoners are more than aware that they have the right to not be brutalized and/or raped in prison. The fact that they see their rights being constantly violated while the prison administration and legal system looks the other way is what turns them into sociopaths who have no regard for decency.  What they need is legal protections and advocacy from groups like the ACLU. They are asking for EXACTLY what you suggest, more resources dedicated to rehabilitation, including protections from violence in prison.

              There is no evidence that the ACLU's involvement in this issue is taking resources from any of their other advocacy areas, so your argument is really just a straw man.

              "When a nation's young admit to being conservative, it signals the death knell of the country." - John F. Kennedy

              by cjk002 on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 12:22:49 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Right Here... (0+ / 0-)

                Most people who are in prison aren't there for robbing banks, they are there because either economic pressure, dysfunctional families, or peer pressure has led them to act irresponsibly, usually involving drugs or petty crime.

                That is what I call...saying it was not their fault...

                There is no evidence that the ACLU's involvement in this issue is taking resources from any of their other advocacy areas, so your argument is really just a straw man.

                Really...so all the death row inmates have been spared execution...all the wrongly convicted inmates are allowed to use DNA to clear themselves...all the torturers are in jail...

                You presented no emperical evidence that prison rape leads to recidvism...no studies only a sense...and I presented an alternative theory of why recidvism is different in different states...

                Here is a comprehensive study that links good probation follow-up with lower recidvism rates...

                http://www.ct.gov/...

                Obama - Change I still believe in

                by dvogel001 on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 12:52:09 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  So when I said it has led them to act (0+ / 0-)

                  irresponsibly, that somehow means that I don't think it's their fault? You just provided a perfect example of the kind of distortion I was talking about.

                  Criminals have to take responsibility for their actions, and that means serving their time, and if they are eligible, trying to rehabilitate themselves. Criminals should not have the right to abuse other prisoners, and those convicted of crimes should not be subject to violence from other prisoners.

                  You provide no empirical evidence that the ACLU is neglecting cases because of its advocacy of the rights of prisoners to not be subjected to violence. No studies...only a sense.

                  I can provide you with several examples of the effect of violence in prison on recidivism rates:

                  "Sexual and other forms of abuse in prison are common, reported by some 20 percent of inmates. These "monster factories," as the lawyer and author Sunny Schwartz calls them, do little to break the cycle of violence in society and may even accelerate it. Roughly two thirds of those released from US jails and prisons end up back inside within three years. Some studies suggest that the experience of imprisonment can be so brutal and humiliating that it actually makes men, in particular, harder and meaner, so that the crimes they commit the next time around are even worse than what got them incarcerated in the first place"

                  That quote is from M. Keith Chen and Jesse M. Shapiro, "Do Harsher Prison Conditions Reduce Recidivism? A Discontinuity-Based Approach," American Law and Economics Review, Vol. 9, No. 1 (2007)

                  On the link between violence and sexual abuse:

                  "In 2006, a variant of the MAOA gene was found to increase violent behavior in a population of New Zealanders, but only among those who had been abused as children—a well-known population risk factor for violence in later life. There is no indication that the violence-inducing MAOA gene is more common in any particular racial group."

                  That qoute is from Essi Viding and Uta Frith, "Genes for Susceptibility to Violence Lurk in the Brain," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, No. 103 (2006), pp. 6085–6086.

                  On the link between crime and socioeconomic factors:

                  Policymakers could start by improving schools in black neighborhoods, which suffer severely from underinvestment, overcrowding, class disruption, and high dropout rates. This endangers us all, and should be addressed, because the likelihood of incarceration falls with increasing education, especially for black men. According to one estimate, 23 percent of the discrepancy in black/white incarceration rates could be eliminated if blacks stayed in school as long as whites, and that was in 1980, before the thirty-year surge in black incarceration got underway. An even greater effect was seen with violent crime, such as murder and assault. According to the authors of this study, a one percent increase in the graduation rate could save $1.4 billion that would otherwise be spent keeping these men behind bars.

                  A high school diploma itself seems to help keep black men out of trouble. The likelihood of incarceration drops fourfold among black high school graduates compared to those who make it only to tenth or eleventh grade. It is unlikely that there is anything special about the twelfth-grade curriculum that would explain this. However, graduation may indicate a relatively positive attitude toward society and toward oneself that is more important for keeping black youths out of trouble than any skill or knowledge acquired in school. Some studies suggest, remarkably, that a diploma may matter more than one's income, or even whether one has a job at all. Prison education programs that allow inmates to earn college degrees have also been associated with a drop in recidivism.[21] Thus the decision of former New York governor George Pataki to end these programs in the mid-1990s may well have had consequences for public safety.

                  That is from Mark Edward Votruba and Jeffrey R. Kling, "Effects of Neighborhood Characteristics on the Mortality of Black Male Youth: Evidence from Gautreaux, Chicago," Social Science & Medicine, Vol. 68, No. 5 (March 2009).

                  There are dozens of other studies that confirm the link between harsh prison conditions and the recidivism rate. My opinion comes from more than a sense of what the causes may be, It comes from the reading I've done and the people I've been exposed to who have been in the prison system. If you need more examples, I'll be happy to provide you with them.

                  "When a nation's young admit to being conservative, it signals the death knell of the country." - John F. Kennedy

                  by cjk002 on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 01:23:39 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Yes that is what it means to me... (0+ / 0-)

                    when people say...they acted "irresponsibly" because...that is moving the blame away from the individual criminal...

                    What I would have said...is they broke the law...statistically more people who have certain circumstances break the law...but that does not excuse breaking the law...

                    I do not disagree that prisons that are more punitive (e.g. harsh) and less rehabilitative have higher ricidvism rates...but that does not include singling out prison rape (as bad as that is) as a singular factor in recidvism...

                    All that being said...all rapes in and out of prison should be punished...personally, I would like the ACLU to work on a few other pressing problems first...

                    Obama - Change I still believe in

                    by dvogel001 on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 01:44:36 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  When you refuse to hear what I'm (0+ / 0-)

                      actually saying and then rewrite it in your own head to mean something else, then you're destroying the chance of having a respectful conversation. If I had done the same thing, I could have said that you are for prisoners being raped because you think they are bad people. I know that's not the case, and I would be dishonest if I tried to characterize what you said in that way.

                      This is the same tactic the right-wing uses to claim that liberals are soft on crime. They know we aren't, but they know that if they simplify the argument and make it black and white - "You're either for criminals or you are against them", then it's easier to turn people against something, even if that position has merit. Crime is not a simple issue, it has many causes and factors, and the only way to effectively deal with it is to deal with those factors comprehensively. I never said that we should single out prison rape as a cause of crime, and neither does the ACLU, that is another distortion.

                      Trying to deal with the other factors that cause crime is not moving responsibility away from the people who commit the crimes, it's an attempt to mitigate the circumstances that lead people to make the decision to commit a crime in the first place. The ACLU is trying to do this on several fronts, including protecting the incarcerated from rape and violence.

                      I sincerely doubt that anyone could find an example of someone being executed because the ACLU was more worried about prison rape.

                      "When a nation's young admit to being conservative, it signals the death knell of the country." - John F. Kennedy

                      by cjk002 on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 02:09:31 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I am for criminals... (0+ / 0-)

                        for doing rehabilitation programs and good parole to work programs that are funded properly to prevent recidvism...

                        And yes there have been scores of people executed or on death row who do not deserve to have state sponsored execution...

                        All I was saying...is the way you wrote your original passage is exactly what people criticize good progressives for...because it sounds like we are making excuses for criminal behavior...I know you did not mean it that way...but that is the way it came out...

                        The ACLU like all organizations do not have unlimited resources...so to say that by spending time on revising prisoner lawsuit procedures in order to allow for easier prosecution of prison rapes is not taking resources away from what I consider higher priorities...would not be reality based...

                        Here are some other examples, electronic records privacy, "sexting laws", anti-pornography laws, protection of abortion clinics from intimidation...to name a few...

                        Obama - Change I still believe in

                        by dvogel001 on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 02:18:50 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Just because people mischaracterize what (0+ / 0-)

                          progressives say doesn't mean its right for you to do the same thing. You're conceding the argument even though you know that the point is valid.

                          This is why conservatives have been so successful at persuading people to vote for them, even when it is against their own self-interests. They change the meaning of what we on the left say, and repeat that meaning over and over until we give up. The fact that you use the word progressive instead of liberal is a perfect example. Conservatives have turned liberal into a pejorative, and instead of fighting back and standing up for what we believe in, we gave in and changed what we call ourselves.

                          The same thing has happened with our approach to crime. Even though there is a preponderance of evidence to support the idea that protecting prisoners from abuse and rehabilitating them is far more effective than simply throwing them into a violent and abusive prison system, we refuse to argue that point for fear of being called weak.

                          This is why we lost 7 of the last 11 presidential elections, and why crime and incarceration rates have soared under mandatory minimum and 3-strikes laws, which Democrats supported for fear of not being reelected.

                          You still haven't provided any evidence that the ACLU is neglecting cases surrounding any of the issues you brought up. In fact, they are actively involved in each of those issues. I can't recall a single execution that has occured in the last 20 years where the ACLU has not been involved. I really think you're chasing a straw man on this issue.

                          "When a nation's young admit to being conservative, it signals the death knell of the country." - John F. Kennedy

                          by cjk002 on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 02:37:55 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Oh yea...now who is changing everything... (0+ / 0-)

                            I have an issue the way you phrased something and gave it meaning that it should not have had...and now all of a sudden I am the cause of losing 7 of the last 11 elections...

                            We as progressives need to take responsibility for what we say and how we say it...and stop saying that we are being taken advantage of by evil conservatives who spin our words...

                            I genuinely did not like the way you characterized criminals to make your point that it is so important that our leading constitutional defender in this country should not prioritize its constitutional battles towards other issues than the right of prisoners to redress their grievances in court when they have alleged being raped...

                            After our lengthy discussions, yes I now know you do not believe that criminals are in jail because of their misfortunes, upbringing...etc...but your initial words did not say that...and I stand by my original comment....

                            And it is not just executions...I mentioned many different issues that require attention in previous posts...

                            I provided an extensive link to a study of why criminals go back to jail and what keeps them out of jail...and jailhouse rape/abuse does not show up anywhere...

                            In the end, we just disagree that this is a high priority for the chief defender of our constitution...where there have been so many infractions in recent years...

                            You want a prisoner's rights case...how about overturning the horrible restrictions on prisoners right to get a new trial based on DNA that was not available 20 years ago...let alone access to having DNA tested to make a case...

                            Obama - Change I still believe in

                            by dvogel001 on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 02:52:36 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Wow, (0+ / 0-)

                            Don't you think that claiming that I am accusing you of being responsible for the Democrats losing elections is mischaracterizing what I said...just a little bit?

                            I said that when Democrats concede a point because a Republican has managed to define our argument as weak despite all the evidence to the contrary, and the Democrat's refusal to stand firmly for what they believe in the face of that criticism is the reason why we have lost so many elections, not you personally. The fact that you can conclude that I was accusing you personally of losing elections when my statements clearly indicate otherwise and that I was blaming Republicans when in fact I was saying that we should be fighting them when they try to mischaracterize us shows a severe lack of comprehension on your part.

                            It seems as if you didn't read what I wrote at all, you say that progressives need to take responsibility for what they say, that is EXACTLY what I said, and I said they should defend what they say with facts and evidence to back it up, even in the face of criticism and distortion by their opponents. I really don't care whether or not you liked what I had to say about the root causes of crime, since I backed up those assertions with facts. Your mischaracterizations of what I have to say shows that you aren't taking the time to read what I have written, you're simply applying your own interpretation without even considering what is actually put before you.

                            I never said that the ACLU shouldn't prioritize, I said there is no evidence that focusing on prison violence and rape is keeping them from focusing on other areas. That annual report doesn't provide any evidence of that either, if it does, please point out to me the page that proves it.

                            "When a nation's young admit to being conservative, it signals the death knell of the country." - John F. Kennedy

                            by cjk002 on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 03:49:49 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Regarding your study, (0+ / 0-)

                            I really don't think that Connecticut, with its mostly white, mostly middle and upper-class population, and its exponentionally smaller crime and poverty rates than the rest of the country would provide an accurate representation of the prison system in this country. I provided multiple studies that showed that prison violence has a negative effect on prisoners and the recedivism rate from authors who studied the prison system in places like California and Illinois.

                            "When a nation's young admit to being conservative, it signals the death knell of the country." - John F. Kennedy

                            by cjk002 on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 04:06:28 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I have never argued the point that... (0+ / 0-)

                            prison violence has a negative effect on prisoner outcomes...I would be surprised if that was not the case...the question is...does allowing prisoners more liberal access to courts stem that violence or tie the hands of prisons to do their job...?

                            I do not know the answer...but I still do not think this is a high priority for anyone to pursue...we should look at other ways to reduce violence to prisoners rather than liberalizing their access to courts to get their accused violence adjudicated...

                            As for CT not being representative of the US I would say they are more closely aligned with the average US part of the country than not...

                            http://quickfacts.census.gov/...

                            Obama - Change I still believe in

                            by dvogel001 on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 05:08:14 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  California has 10 times as many (0+ / 0-)

                            residents as Connecticut, and nearly ten times as many people in prison. California prisons are rife with violence, gang activity, and overcrowding. The difference could not be greater. It's ridiculous to claim that Connecticutt is more representative of the country than states like California, Texas, or Illinois. Studies conducted in those states (where far more people live) reveal a much different result.

                            I never said that the issue of prison rape should be a high priority, I'm saying that it is something that is worthy of the ACLU's attention. I've seen no evidence that it is treated as a higher priority than the other issues you brought up. For them to ignore it, however, would be a dereliction of their duties as constitutional watchdogs.

                            My point is this: There is room for the ACLU to work on all of the issues we both mentioned. The ACLU has thousands of lawyers, many of whom work pro bono, and I've never heard of or read a story about the ACLU being stretched too thin. They have lawyers working on all of the issues you discussed, so I don't see why them tackling this issue is such an affront to you.

                            "When a nation's young admit to being conservative, it signals the death knell of the country." - John F. Kennedy

                            by cjk002 on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 05:27:42 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  If you look at CT actual demographics... (0+ / 0-)

                            instead of what you think about CT...you will see it is pretty close to the average for the country...that was my point...

                            I did not say it was more representative than CA or IL but to dismiss it as a "White only" state is not accurate either...

                            On this last comment we pretty much agree...it should not be a very high priority...peace...

                            Obama - Change I still believe in

                            by dvogel001 on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 07:52:02 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I think also from a philosophical perspective... (0+ / 0-)

                            I tend to agree that criminals should only have access to the courts on a limited basis and reform should occur in the penal system not dragging the courts into it...

                            Obama - Change I still believe in

                            by dvogel001 on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 07:54:14 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  When I read this annual... (0+ / 0-)

                            report...

                            Everything that is highlighted is a higher priority to me than making it easier for prisoners to take their prison abuses/rapes to court...

                            Obama - Change I still believe in

                            by dvogel001 on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 03:08:50 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Oops...here is the link... (0+ / 0-)

                            Obama - Change I still believe in

                            by dvogel001 on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 03:10:21 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

  •  this is probably (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Piotr, Albatross, kaolin, ZhenRen, impygirl

    worse than torture.

  •  What a strange message it sends (12+ / 0-)

    when people who are locked up can get away with the crime of rape . Criminals that are incarcerated are being allowed to commit crimes while under the control and supervision of corrections officials .

    "...for by such conduct they bring shame, disgrace and ruin to themselves and their country." George Washington Sept 14 1775

    by indycam on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 09:12:17 AM PDT

    •  And what does it do for recidivism (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sngmama, Albatross, kaolin, cjk002

      if someone in prison has been taught that some crimes just aren't even investigated?

      What does it say that someone can do something in prison that in the outside would instantly put someone on the sex offender watch list and not even get an official verbal warning for it?

      How many serial rapists get released each year with no warning to the general public because their sex offenses occurred in prison?

      Hoping and praying that the empty chairs and empty tables in Iran when all is said and done are as few as possible.

      by Cassandra Waites on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 09:27:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  One of the least discussed angles (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Piotr

      is the guards' work environment.

      A united prisoner population is a powerful force and, shoulder-to-shoulder, a prison's population could have its way in many circumstances (rules, treatment, etc.).  But the gang violence, fear and intimidation, coercion and predation takes much of the pressure off the staff.

      If an area of a prison became cohesive in its attitude and started making demands on the institution, the group will be broken up and its leaders will be moved into an environment where they'll have less influence.  

      Sad to say but from a guard's perspective, it's better to have them killing and raping each other then trying to create a community atmosphere.

      (-7.75, -7.69) No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up - Lily Tomlin

      by john07801 on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 11:02:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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