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June 24, 2009

New York Times editorial on combatting prison rape

I am pleased to see that the New York Times has responded to the new important report on prison rape (details here) with this potent editorial.  Here are some highlights:

Rape accompanied by savage violence has long been part of prison life. Congress finally confronted this horrendous problem by passing the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003. In addition to bringing attention to a long overlooked problem, the new law created a commission that has put forth a broad set of rape-prevention standards that deserve to become mandatory in correctional agencies throughout the country.

The commission report, released earlier this week, should come as alarming news.  It suggests, for example, that rapes carried out by corrections officers and inmates are widespread, but the actual rates of rape vary widely from place to place....  Young people in custody are particularly vulnerable. In pilot study of nine youth facilities, nearly 1 in 5 respondents reported one nonconsensual sexual contact during the previous year.

Rape is not inevitable, however.  Strong leaders who are committed to fighting the problem can minimize these savage and traumatic assaults.  For starters, the commission recommends that all correctional agencies develop explicit, written zero-tolerance policies on this issue....

The report represents a strong first step in confronting this problem.  The next step lies with Attorney General Eric Holder, who can approve the report’s recommendations and thereby make the standards mandatory for federal prisons and state prisons that accept federal money.

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June 24, 2009 at 08:28 AM | Permalink


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It suggests, for example, that rapes carried out by corrections officers and inmates are widespread

I agree that rapes in prison are a problem, but perpetrated by correctional staff is widespread? Really? I hope the evidence for this is not merely self-report.

Posted by: | Jun 24, 2009 1:56:05 PM

Grits has a post about Bubba.

Posted by: George | Jun 24, 2009 1:59:05 PM

Funny, this aspect of prison life seldom comes up in debates on whether this five-year sentence or that 10-year sentence was too "lenient."

Posted by: John K | Jun 25, 2009 12:34:40 PM

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