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Prison Essay

1472 words - 6 pages

We all know that our prisons are the final frontier for the socially rejected criminals and violent offenders. We know that our prisons are so overcrowded that the Supreme Court of California issued a court order to reduce the number of inmates. We know that since there are more inmates in prison the chance of getting rehabilitated is very slim. And we also know that the ratio of supervision of guard to inmate is extremely high. But do we know what goes on in our prisons and jails? We know we have prison gangs, drugs, assaults, robberies, and even murders in prison. But what happens when you mix an overcrowded prison or jail with violent, drug using, angry, abusive, gang related men with the average person who is in prison or jail for the first time. The result is an aggressive sexual act known as inmate rape. The fight against rape in our communities is doomed to failure and will continue so as long as it ignores the network of training grounds for rapists: our prisons, jails and reform schools. For too long, we have turned away from the rape crisis in these institutions, which now hold 1.3 million men and boys. In most of them, rape is an entrenched tradition considered by prisoners a legitimate way to `prove their manhood' and to satisfy sexual needs and the brutal desire for power. The exact number of sexually assaulted prisoners is unknown, but a conservative estimate, based on two decades of surveys, is that “more than 290,000 males are sexually assaulted behind bars every year. By comparison, the Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that there are 135,000 rapes of women a year nationwide, though many groups believe the number is higher.”(Mezey and King, 1995). Inmate rape is not a sexually motivated act but instead constitutes a sexual expression of aggression. Once victimized, a prisoner is marked as a continual target for sexual attack and is repeatedly subjected to gang rapes, or must trade submission to one or more men in exchange for protection from the rest. Very few of these rapes are ever reported to administrators, much less prosecuted. “If a prisoner is middle-class, not `street-wise,' not affiliated with a gang, not part of the racial or ethnic group that dominates his institution or held in a big city jail, he is likely to be a target.”(Scacco, 1992). The victims are usually heterosexuals who are forced into a passive sexual role, though the relatively few known homosexuals are perhaps three times as likely to be raped. The assailants are almost always heterosexual by preference; thus the phrase `homosexual rape' is extremely misleading. Being a male inmate victim of rape is traumatizing since he is devalued in regard to the two primary sources of his identity: sexuality and aggression. “Sexual abuse has a special meaning for the male victim. Their gender identity and gender image is tarnished by the use which another male had with their body.” (Ben-David, 1993). Though the problem has not been adequately studied, sexual...

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