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September 10, 2010

New York Times editorial urges "tough as possible" prison rape policies

This morning's New York Times includes this editorial headlined "Make Prisons Safer," which gets started this way:

Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. has spent nearly 15 months weighing new mandatory rape prevention policies for federal prisons and state correctional institutions that receive federal money. The policies, which are due this fall, need to be as tough as possible.

A recent report from the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics makes that clear, suggesting yet again that sexual violence is frighteningly commonplace in the nation’s prisons and jails.

September 10, 2010 at 06:42 AM | Permalink


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Because the prison has total control of the body of the prisoner, it should be held accountable in torts for allowing sexual assault. I understand the statutory obstacles. They are unfair.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Sep 10, 2010 8:55:40 AM

what's really really sad and alarming about this is our great attorney generical has spent 15 MONTHS trying to figure out RAPE IS BAD! how hard is it to announce RAPE ANYWHERE BY ANYBODY is a CRIME and will be PROSECUTED!

Posted by: rodsmith | Sep 10, 2010 3:45:19 PM

rodsmith --

One small item, if I might: The AG hasn't had time to think all that much about rape, since he's been busy (1) calling the American people "cowards" for failing to discuss race (although it's discussed without end and all over the place); and (2) figuring out where we're going to try Khalid Sheik Mohammed -- once the NY Dems put up a fuss, the previously balleyhooed NYC trial went up in smoke. But at least we can rest assured that the decision won't be influence by politics, ya know.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Sep 10, 2010 4:05:39 PM

How much more can these people do to control inmates? Short of chemical castration? They are already in prison and inmates are unlikely to testify about rape or press charges.

Posted by: MikeinCT | Sep 10, 2010 4:52:35 PM

They can start to do their job, which is to supervise, and to prosecute crime. I would like to allow prison authorities to severely cane any prisoner who commits crimes at their sole discretion, to make the staff more dominant and frightening to people who have no fear. Guards using rape intentionally to retaliate against a prisoner should face the same.

And, of course, if a rape is 3, in 123D, the rapist should be summarily executed. Hold a brief trial in the prison meeting room. There should be 10,000 executions for crimes committed inside prisons, each year to be rid of the ultra-violent cohort without having to victimize the public.

Right now, the ultra-violent prisoner has the full protection of the vile lawyer traitor to our nation. Why? The vicious predator is a precious commodity generating massive lawyer jobs.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Sep 10, 2010 8:32:11 PM

gonna have to give you that one bill. If him and the rest of the govt wasn't so busy becoming the ultimate trators to the constituino they swore to uphold....they might have time to do their jobs.

and SC i agree with you as well. letting the prisoner's run the prisons is both idiotic and CRIMINAL. ALL areas of every prison and jail in this country should be under 24/7 unalterable video surveilance....that would eliminate all of these crimes and quite a few others on BOTH sides of the street.

Posted by: rodsmith | Sep 11, 2010 3:49:29 AM

They can write all these things in paper, but the real problem, as it always has been, is in its execution. Aside from those things they've drawn up with, they should device a better environment, or at least deviate a physical distraction for the inmates.

Posted by: Radio Head | Sep 13, 2010 1:24:34 AM


"How much more can these people do to control inmates?" In many places, they could start by not assigning more inmates to a dorm/pod/facility than it was designed to safely handle, and/or by ensuring that there are enough staff available to effectively observe/control the number of inmates present. When you stuff prisons and jails to 150 or 200 percent capacity (often in situations where there are not individual cells, but dorm-style accomodations), as is done in many jurisdictions throughout the country, the results are predictable -- anarchy and the tyranny of the strong over the weak.

In some prisons there have been situations where 70 to 90 inmates live in each dorm, and one guard is assigned to supervise 3 or 4 dorms at a time. I think there is some middle ground between allowing a situation like that to persist and resorting to "chemical castration."

The mechanics of how this situation gets fixed are complicated, though. The courts, understandably, are reticient to set absolute caps on prison capacities (e.g., 125 percent) and/or to order outright releases (see the long-drawn-out California federal litigation). But given the inability of political actors in many places to either (a) spend more resources to provide non-anarchic conditions of incarceration or (b) incarcerate fewer people, the courts ultimately may be the only institution with the capacity to remedy this kind of situation. If this happens, it will not be a good day for the courts, as the same officials whose inaction and abdication of responsibility forced the their hand to order relief will invariably (and succesfully) attack them as self-aggrandizing activists for doing so.

Posted by: NC Atty | Sep 13, 2010 12:25:11 PM


" The courts, understandably, are reticient to set absolute caps on prison capacities (e.g., 125 percent) and/or to order outright releases (see the long-drawn-out California federal litigation). ":

Wonder why not? what makes them special. You can't take a single family house and put 50 people in it? You cant' take a restaurant setup to handle 200 and put in 600! or a theatre setup to hold 300 and put 900! IT'S AGAINST THE LAW. So what makes the prison special? if it was build to handle 1000 or 1200 or 56 prisoners YOU CAN'T GO OVER! PERIOD! you have 3 choices when it's gonna happen


Posted by: rodsmith | Sep 13, 2010 5:52:48 PM

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