Eliminating Prison Rape?

I’d like to see it, but I’m skeptical that the moral will exists among our corrupt bureaucrats and legislators to make it happen, especially in California, where a major factor running the state into the ground has been a powerful prison-guard union to which the legislature is in thrall.

12 thoughts on “Eliminating Prison Rape?”

  1. I’ve been our tours of Alcatraz Island where the prison conditions during its time of operation (20’s through the early 60’s) were discussed. At Alcatraz, the lives of prisoners were strictly regimented including the enforcement of almost complete silence with few exceptions throughout the day. Very few possessions were allowed (a few books and such) and possession of any metal or other material suitable for weapons was strictly forbidden. The life of the prisoners was monastic in many ways. Although there were occasional outbreaks of violence, it was the rare exception rather than the rule. In such a system there was very little opportunity for prisoner-on-prisoner violence compared to the way prisons are run today. Finally, when violence did occur the perpetrators were dealt with harshly.

    What I find curious is that the operations of Alcatraz would be viewed as far too harsh for prisoners these days. I know that as a prisoner I would much prefer a spartan, monastic lifestyle over the hell holes prisons have become these days where gangs run amok and gang-rape is a daily threat.

    I wonder if there is room for choices in the operation of penitentiaries? Similar to what people advocate for schools. Perhaps prisoners could be given the choice to submit to extremely regimented environments to serve their time where the threat of prisoner-on-prisoner violence is minimized.

  2. One difficulty is the ratio of guards to prisoners. IIRC, at Alcatraz, there were 2-3 guards per prisoner and each prisoner had a cell to himself. Except perhaps for the super max prisons, that simply isn’t the case today. With more prisoners than guards and with more than one prisoner to a cell, the opportunities for violence are greater and it’d be much more difficult to enforce the Alcatraz-style discipline even if the ACLU let you try.

  3. The underlying problem is that to control a population of criminals and crazies and sub-human brutes (unless you have the impossibly-expensive resources of Alcatraz or Gitmo) requires brutality. In the old days, prison guards used to rule by fear.

    When do-gooders forced guards to treat prisoners decently, then our prisons became hell-holes.

    It was a bad trade-off, in my opinion, but the subject is never even going to be mentionable, so we can expect all reforms to fail.

  4. It was a bad trade-off, in my opinion, but the subject is never even going to be mentionable, so we can expect all reforms to fail.

    Sadly, very true.

  5. One key step, it seems to me, would be to separate the violent from the non-violent offenders and segregate them, if not house them in completely different facilities.

  6. I’ve never understood why they don’t do that in the first place. I suppose it comes from the idea that if you are sent to prison, no matter what for, you deserve to suffer. Oddly enough, I think that idea and the whole attitude behind it has risen, not gone down, as the call to “understand” criminals and reform them instead of punish replaced the supposedly more brutal traditional treatment of prisoners. Not that prisoners weren’t treated brutally in the past, but sometimes I think that the intractability of crime — the fact that for all our understanding of motives and causes and so on, people still commit crime — has only increased our hatred and fear of criminals. Also the idea that “good” people aren’t supposed to be violent at all, even in self-defense (“good” people don’t buy guns, only crazy rightwingers and criminals; “good” people don’t get into fistfights, not even to defend someone weaker, and so on) has added to the fear and rage. And we’ve invested too much into the idea that Science! and Education(tm) will solve all problems, so we can’t admit that we’ve failed in the movement to reform criminals but instead only invested them with dangerous levels of self-esteem unrestrained by esteem for others and promoted a whole other level of criminal culture.

  7. With all the outsourcing going on, I often wonder why we can’t outsource the imprisonment of violent and dangerous felons to other countries. I’m very certain that there would be a waiting line of countries willing to “care” for our prisoners if we offered them just a fraction of what we spend per prisoner in this country.

    Besides housing foreign prisoners seems to have worked out OK for Australia.

  8. And if we stopped incarcerating non-violent offenders, and instead offered them a chance to literally work off their debt to the State, there would be more prison cells available for the hard-core violent offenders. And if we got rid of the War on Some Drugs (thanks to the late Robert Anton Wilson for that memorable phrase), there would be fewer nonviolent “criminals” in the first place.

  9. Once again, blame the big, bad prison guard union because inmates rape each other? Or, you could maybe do a tiny bit of research and find out that our organization was an active participant in the PREA Commission efforts, repeatedly testifying before the commission, providing insight and recommendations to assist the commission in its efforts.

    A safe prison for inmates equates to a safe prison for the staff.

    Unfortunately, it appears that it is much easier for you to blame sworn correctional peace officers than to do any actual research prior to assigning blame.

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