«ABSTRACT THE SOCIAL INJUSTICE OF PRISON RAPE: A HISTORICAL ANALYSIS By Francy Lynn Jenko August 2010 The purpose of this review is to gain a better ...»
THE SOCIAL INJUSTICE OF PRISON RAPE:
A HISTORICAL ANALYSIS
Francy Lynn Jenko
The purpose of this review is to gain a better understanding of prison rape and
why it has routinely been an unobstructed form of inequality in American culture.
Further, to examine why society typically holds a retributive approach toward sexual assault in prison and to review the recent legislation, which was enacted to help minimize the social injustice of rape in all detention facilities throughout America. This historical analysis revealed that sexual assault occurs in every type of correctional facility, in multiple locations, and at various times. Prison sexual violence profoundly impacts survivors, threatens public health, and hinders the ability of facility personnel to maintain orderly, safe, and productive correctional environments. Research on sexual assault in detention is scarce and typically inadequate due to small sample sizes, definitional problems, and low participant response rates. Studies on inmate victimization have produced contradictory conclusions, making it difficult to accurately assess the prevalence of sexual violence in corrections. However, most studies indicate that prison rape is a serious threat for countless prisoners.
THE SOCIAL INJUSTICE OF PRISON RAPE:
A HISTORICAL ANALYSISA THESIS Presented to the Department of Social Work California State University, Long Beach In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Social Work
Janaki Santhiveeran, Ph.D. (Chair) Ruth Chambers, Ph.D.
Nancy Meyer-Adams, Ph.D.
John Oliver, Ph.D.
By Francy Lynn Jenko B.A., 2007, California State University, Long Beach August 2010 UMI Number: 1490295 All rights reserved
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I would like to thank anyone and everyone who has encouraged me to grow, learn, and succeed. I owe my passion and character to my family, the most important people in my life. Without their love and support I would not be blessed with such rich opportunities. Also, I would like to acknowledge my two dogs, the most important loves in my life.
In addition, I would like to thank my friends, my past and present co-workers, my field instructors, and my fellow MSW colleagues. Go Summer-Block! You are all amazing people, and I am quite happy to know you. Also, thank you to Justin Wong, Janet Wong, Ursula Whiteside, Holly Jenko, and Thea Griffith-Wilson for reading my thesis, providing feedback, and helping with formatting. Also, I would like to thank Regina Martin for listening to me talk incessantly about this topic and numerous others.
Further, I would like to acknowledge the many educators who helped me advance throughout my college careers. I appreciate each professor's dedication, patience, and knowledge. To my advisor and committee members, I greatly thank you for helping me complete this project and thus obtain my graduate degree. Yay!
Lastly, I would like to acknowledge Dr. Jillian Jimenez, an avid social policy advocate and an exceptional professor who I had the pleasure to learn from. She stated that, "All social problems in the United States, along with our policy responses to them, are socially constructed; that is, they have been created by human beings in previous generations and continue to be held in place by our consent and our failure to act to change them" (Jimenez, 2010).
Research suggests that sexual assault in detention facilities in the United States is a widespread problem that affects numerous prisoners as well as society (Berk, Kriegler, & Baek, 2006; Dumond, 2003; Eigenberg, 2000). It is estimated that 1 in 10 prisoners is the victim of a completed rape at least once during incarceration (Struckman-Johnson & Struckman-Johnson, 2000). According to English and Heil (2005), the occurrence of inmate sexual abuse has been known and examined by academics over the last 30 years.
However, research has by and large failed to influence policies needed to prevent, intervene, or respond to prison rape (Dumond, 2000; English & Heil, 2005). In addition, much of the early literature was inconsistent due to the variety of methodological approaches utilized in different studies (Jones & Pratt, 2008). Moreover, unclear or diverse definitions contributed to unreliable prevalence rates (Jones & Pratt, 2008;
Kaufman, 2008). Although prevalence rates fluctuate across studies, academic research often underestimates the impact of sexual violence in detention and the extent to which it constitutes a significant social injustice (Dumond, 2003).
This review is a historical analysis of sexual abuse in detention settings throughout the United States of America from the 1930s to the passing of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) in 2003. Included is an examination of the rape-relevant history of prison policies and prison culture from 1934 to the present. In addition, sociocultural factors relating to sexual abuse and sex roles within the prison sub-culture will be assessed and compared with those traditionally found in American society. Furthermore, the most recent and influential legislation affecting the sexual abuse of inmates, PREA, will be the subject of assessment as the first federal response to the crisis of sexual abuse in detention settings. This review will show how a growing awareness of sexual violence in detention settings throughout the past 80 years led to a policy response in PREA. In addition, this review will attempt to answer the following questions: Why have prisoners historically not been protected? How have policies evolved to eliminate prison rape?
How does PREA intend to meet its proposed objectives?
Systemic problems contribute to the ineffective minimization of prison sexual violence, while the growing prison population destabilizes efforts to implement new programs to reduce its incidence (Dumond, 2003). Overcrowding, understaffing, poor classification systems, and individual attitudes contribute to the high rate of prison sexual assault (Dumond, 2003). Also, the stigma associated with prison rape and indifferent attitudes toward its occurrence contribute to under-reporting by both inmates and staff (National Prison Rape Elimination Commission [NPREC], 2009). Moreover, the current prison system does not provide for a supportive or positive rehabilitative environment for inmates (Kupers, 2005). Rather, the unsafe and unproductive environments found in detention facilities across America undermine the goal of rehabilitation (NPREC, 2009).
Survivors of prison sexual violence are significantly affected (Dumond, 2003;
Dumond & Dumond, 2007; English & Heil, 2005; Jones & Pratt, 2008; Mair, Frattaroli, & Teret, 2003; Mariner, 2001; Melby, 2006). Mental health consequences of prison sexual brutality include depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), rape trauma syndrome (RTS), anxiety, an increased risk of substance abuse, and an increased risk of suicide (Dumond, 2003; English & Heil, 2005). In addition, prison rape survivors are five times more likely to contract HIV than their non-incarcerated counterparts (Maruschak, 1999). These negative consequences affecting individual inmates become damaging to the public, considering that 95% of inmates will eventually return to their communities (Mair et al., 2003).
According to English and Heil (2005), the salient features of sexual assault in prison include violence, politics, power, and business. The targets of abuse in prison often include individuals without the power. Devastatingly, youth incarcerated in juvenile detention centers are the most vulnerable and defenseless population (NPREC, 2009). Moreover, housing child inmates with adults contributes to sexual exploitation behind bars (PREA, 2003). Sadly, minors as young as 16 can be placed in adult facilities in several states (Stop Prison Rape [SPR], 2006). Snyder and Sickmund (2006) reported that in June 2004, more than 7,000 youth under the age of 18 were housed in adult facilities. Once victimized, inmates are marked as easy targets, increasing their risk for additional abuse (Mariner, 2001).
Other most violated groups in prison are gay and transgender individuals, those suffering from mental health disorders, and undocumented immigrants. Jenness, Maxson, Matsuda, and Sumner (2007) reported that 67% of inmates who identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender reported having been sexually assaulted by another inmate during their incarceration. Additionally, individuals who suffer from mental health problems are found to be a highly targeted group (Jenness et al., 2007; Wolff, Blitz, & Shi, 2007). Undocumented immigrants are especially vulnerable to sexual assault during imprisonment due to social, cultural and language isolation, past trauma, and lack of awareness regarding both the United States and prison cultures (NPREC, 2009).
Rape in prison, just like other forms of rape, is a human rights violation. Dumond (2003) suggests that permitting or not opposing such human rights violations weakens the government's power to protect numerous inmates and provide safe institutions. Jenness et al. (2007) support this conclusion, explaining that sexual violence in prison limits the ability of facility personnel to maintain an orderly, safe, and productive correctional environment. English and Heil (2005) propose that the ominous danger of sexual violence in prison creates an atmosphere of terror, further compromising security.
Sadly, American society has not intervened on behalf of the vulnerable, the powerless, or even its children, who endure unjust torment because of America's lack of awareness and refusal to acknowledge the occurrence of rape in state and federal institutions (SPR, 2006). Further, some individuals view sexual violence in prison as a natural consequence of violating societal norms, which likely contributes to the toleration of prison rape (Kury & Smartt, 2002).
Although rape in detention facilities across America has been largely ignored traditionally, organizations like Human Rights Watch and Just Detention International have brought attention to this inequity. With the constant expansion of the prison infrastructure, PREA and further legislation are needed to prevent, intervene, and respond to rape when it occurs. If it is true that the moral and ethical fiber of society are judged by the way it treats its weakest and most vulnerable members, then implementing policies to end abuse in corrections is a much-needed response to a shameful situation.
Definitions of Prison Rape Rape is defined in the three following ways: "The carnal knowledge, oral sodomy, sexual assault with an object, or sexual fondling of a person, forcibly or against the person's will," "The carnal knowledge, oral sodomy, sexual assault with an object, or sexual fondling of a person not forcibly or against the person's will, where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his or her youth or his or her temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity," or 'The carnal knowledge, oral sodomy, sexual assault with an object, or sexual fondling of a person achieved through the exploitation of the fear or threat of physical violence or bodily injury." Prison rape includes "The rape of an inmate in the actual or constructive control of prison officials" (PREA, 2003, 42 USC 15609).
Definition of Prison Prison is defined as, "Any confinement facility of a federal, state, or local government, whether administered by such government or by a private organization on behalf of such government, and includes any local jail or police lockup and any juvenile facility used for the custody or care of juvenile inmates" (PREA, 2003, 42 USC 15609).
Principles that are intrinsic to the duties of social workers include, but are not limited to, advocating for and protecting the rights of oppressed individuals, minorities, defenseless groups, and those at risk for maltreatment (National Association of Social Work [NASW], 2008). Social workers are to be ethical and to uphold human rights.
Rape, whether of a citizen or an inmate, constitutes a violation of human rights. Thus, social workers have a responsibility to protect individuals who are subject to this exploitation.
It is both critical and fitting to the aims of social work that social workers become aware of the issue of prison rape. An understanding of prison rape prepares social workers to advocate for human rights and inmate rights, to help change the judicial system and the prison system, and to educate members of society on the significant negative consequences of prison sexual violence. Furthermore, social workers should be prepared to educate, counsel, and study the effects of inmate sexual abuse at multiple levels. As such, it is essential that social workers understand how the societal factors, sociocultural factors, and the prison sub-culture collectively contribute to sexual abuse behind bars.