«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 ...»
Innovative Preventative and Intervention Strategies As a result of the push for evidence-based research following the passing of PREA, the Urban Institute and the Association of State Correctional Administrators together interviewed 67 prison officials in 45 states to determine the most effective strategies in addressing sexual abuse in prison (Zweig & Blackmore, 2008). They chose to study 11 states that had initiatives developed or were implementing methods to reduce the occurrence of rape behind bars. These states included Connecticut, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Utah (Zweig & Blackmore, 2008).
The practices that correctional officers reported as the most promising in curtailing prison rape were presented in the research. The officers agreed that the current culture found in prison must be modified to minimize rape, and they identified resistance to change among agency staff, correctional officers, and inmates as the greatest challenge to reducing prison sexual abuse. Prison officials reported that inmates were not likely to report rape due to the fear of not being protected by officials, retaliation, and not being taken seriously (Zweig & Blackmore, 2008). They also found that strong leadership, a zero tolerance approach, inmate and staff education, investigation, prosecution, and victim services were vital components in addressing the crisis of rape in prison (Zweig & Blackmore, 2008).
Of the 11 states that the researchers determined to be using the most pioneering practices, the majority attempted to change the prison institutional culture as a strategy to reduce the occurrence of prison sexual violence (Zweig & Blackmore, 2008).
Additionally, they cited this change as one of the most important features in tackling prison rape. Some prison officials identified the potential for false accusations being a deterrent for prison staff to change their attitudes regarding addressing rape. It was determined that resistance on the part of the staff may be based on the fear of being unfairly accused of such acts (Zweig & Blackmore, 2008).
Other administrators reported that the biggest challenge was changing inmate attitudes on reporting. Empowering survivors of such abuse to be confident enough in the system that they are able and willing to report their abuse without fear of retaliation or their reports being ignored was recommended (Zweig & Blackmore, 2008). Overall, it was concluded that the most important aspect affecting the prevalence of prison rape is the correctional culture itself. Employing strong leadership at senior levels to best address the challenge of changing the prison culture was indicated. Additionally, the officers reported that addressing rape is part of a larger goal of operating safe prisons (Zweig & Blackmore, 2008).
Remarkable Models Since the 1980s, the San Francisco County jail system has been utilizing an effective classification system and has formed a crisis intervention protocol. Brook (2004) explained that the classification system was put in place originally to protect the city's gay inmate population. Under San Francisco's program, staff members are trained to interview, assess, and assign housing for inmates based on the likelihood for both perpetrating and enduring abuse (Brook, 2004).
DeBraux (2006) examined the composition of the innovative Ohio Ten-Point Program. Through Ohio's Ten-Point Program, all staff members receive specialized training on inmate sexual assault and appropriate staff and inmate relationships. Inmates are also educated regarding sexual assault in prison. They learn preventative strategies including how to protect themselves from abuse as well as during assaults. They are also educated on what to do following abuse. Inmates are taught how to report abuse and seek treatment. Further, they are taught how to minimize further harm. Sanctions against the prison are enforced when the prison does not actively take steps to prevent prison rape.
Victim support staff is trained and available for rape survivors. Training officers on investigating prison sexual violence is also part of the ten-point program. All sexual aggressors are electronically tracked to help facilities house perpetrators away from likely victims. Every Ohio facility is audited to make certain that they are in compliance with the program. They are also required to maintain data on all incidents. In addition, a committee is in place to guarantee that the program is effectively implemented (DeBraux, 2006).
Sexual Abuse in Detention Elimination Act of 2005 On September 22, 2005, Governor Schwarzenegger signed into law California's Sexual Abuse in Detention Elimination Act of 2005 (Sexual Abuse in Detention Elimination Act, 2005). This state law indicates provisions that are in accordance with PREA. The Sexual Abuse in Detention Elimination Act of 2005 is charged with specifying proactive and reactive strategies for handling sexual abuse. Recognizing inmate risk factors for sexual victimization and classifying accordingly, intervening if an inmate is targeted, providing safe housing options without punishment, prohibiting retaliation, and responding to all allegations of sexual abuse regardless of the sexual orientation of the alleged victim are integral to the execution of this legislation (Jenness et al., 2007). Identifying and prioritizing prison rape as a safety and administration concern, as well as a violation to the Eighth Amendment rights of inmates, is emphasized in this legislation (Jenness et al.? 2007).
Early research described sex in prison as inmates resorting to homosexual relations as a result of the deprivations associated with confinement. However, consensual sex and protective pairing should be examined with care before determining that they indeed are not coerced acts of rape. To avoid multiple rapes by multiple assailants, some inmates opt to pair with one inmate or a group of inmates for protection (Hensley et al., 2000; Pinkerton et al., 2007).
Although there has been some progress in addressing the injustice of rape behind bars, it appears that the United States has previously taken a laissez-faire approach to its occurrence (Dumond, 2003; Hensley et al., 2000). In terms of the government efforts to prevent sexual violence in detention facilities and to redress survivors of such abuse, the government has failed (SPR, 2006). The PRE A is noteworthy legislation recognizing sexual assault in detention facilities as a serious social problem (Jenness et al., 2007). It mandates numerous reforms and data collection, while assessing achievement in reducing rape rates and providing funding to support research (Jenness et al., 2007). Jenness et al.
(2007) suggested that research prompted by PREA composes important progress in attempts to understand the causes, manifestations, and consequences of sexual assault in correctional facilities.
Since the enactment of PREA, many facilities are making strides toward change.
The legislation has created a tremendous shift in attention to rape in detention facilities, and the enhanced responsiveness is assisting in the goal of achieving safer institutions.
Replicating noteworthy models that have been shown to be effective in minimizing rape in detention facilities and education and training pertaining to prison rape should take place across America. Hopefully, PREA will meet its intended goals and individuals at all levels will be empowered to stand up to this social injustice and end the horrific rapes perpetrated on numerous individuals in confinement.
This thesis analyzed numerous dynamics at play in the prevalence of sexual violence in prisons. The significance of prison sexual violence was of focus and the impact of this violence was highlighted. The intent was to bring more awareness to the social injustice of prison rape by examining its history and by focusing on what can be done to reduce its prevalence. Inmate rape threatens the ability of the government to provide for the humane treatment of inmates (Dumond, 2003; Gaes & Goldberg, 2004;
Harrison & Karberg, 2003), and its consequences are devastating and extensive (Cotton & Groth, 1982; Dumond, 2003; English & Heil, 2005; Jones & Pratt, 2008; Kupers, 2005; Lockwood, 1980; Mair et al., 2003; Mariner, 2001; Maruschak, 1999; Melby, 2006; Nacci & Kane, 1983; Struckman-Johnson et al., 1996).
Recognizing the many factors contributing to rape in prison and improving protective factors while eliminating risk factors is suggested. The problem of prison rape should be examined at multiple levels and in different contexts. Relevant policies and procedures should be modified, implemented, and created to improve multiple structures affecting the conditions of inmates. It has been concluded that systemic features specific to detention facilities including overcrowding, understaffing, improper classification of inmates, and the inmate code of silence contribute to prisoner rape (Berk et al., 2006;
English & Heil, 2005; Hensley, 2002; Kupers, 1996; Mariner 2001; Nacci & Kane, 1982;
Struckman-Johnson & Struckman-Johnson, 2000). Changing these systemic problems would significantly reduce the occurrence of prison rape.
The populations most vulnerable to sexual abuse and those deemed most likely to perpetrate abuse have been clearly and extensively documented in the literature (Austin et al., 2006; Berk et al., 2006; Bowker, 1980; Chonco, 1989; Cotton & Groth, 1982;
Dumond, 1992; Dumond, 2003; English & Heil, 2005; Jenness et al., 2007; Lockwood, 1980; Mariner, 2001; Nacci & Kane, 1983; Toch & Kupers, 1999). Taking this into consideration, housing inmates based on their characteristics is one of the easiest and most significant ways to prevent abuse. Another variable that affects prison rape is attitudes towards prisoners, prison sexuality, and prisoner rape. The attitudes held by prison staff, prison inmates, and society as a whole, all contribute to the tolerance of prison sexual violence.
In addition, the responses following assaults, or the expected responses, typically prevent or promote reporting abuse. Proper and sensitive responses following prison rape would help minimize the prisoner code of silence. Moreover, there is a need for improved laws and for current legislation to be practiced to afford prisoners their rights and allow for redress following all violence endured while incarcerated. Staff and prison officials must also be held responsible in cases where rape occurs under their direct supervision. Finally, holding perpetrators accountable for their actions and charging them with the crime of rape would aid in reducing the occurrence of rape in prison.
Lehrer (2001) indicated that prison rape is the most ignored crime problem in America. To be a humanistic culture, it is crucial that sexual abuse is deemed inexcusable and removed from institutions in America and globally. The tolerance of crimes against humankind is deplorable and can be prevented with the implementation and enforcement of policies and laws targeted at eliminating prison rape. Furthermore, it is critical to become aware of the history of such injustices to amend them for future generations. The knowledge that sexual violence in prison begets further violence in the prison culture, and in communities outside of prison, should lead administrators to modify policies to create environments in prisons where such violence is not ignored or permitted and instead is not accepted but is penalized (Hensley, 2002).
According to Eigenberg (2000), numerous methods, programs, and tactics could be used to combat rape in prison. Such remedies cited included conjugal visits, utilizing separate housing, providing services such as educational and vocational programs, and increasing the number of female officers in facilities. Hensley (2002) suggested that encouraging conventional sexuality in prison through permitting masturbation, conjugal visits, and the accessibility of condoms among inmates would help reduce sexual violence in prison.
However, Bowker (1980) indicated that conjugal visits only curtailed rape, if at all, by the use of social control. Thus, conjugal sex, itself, was not responsible for diminishing the occurrence of rape. Rather, the threat of not being permitted conjugal visits potentially led inmates to abide by rules. Eigenberg (2000) also suggested that none of these strategies have been proven to minimize the occurrence of prison sexual violence. Further, she also stated that they are based on the unproven theory that rape in prison is a situational response to the deprivation of heterosexual outlets. StruckmanJohnson et al. (1996) determined that both inmates and correctional officers reported that better screening and classification procedures would be effective in reducing prison rape.
Further, segregating likely targets and perpetrators, enhanced supervision, consequences afforded to the perpetrators, single cell use, and improved training for inmates and staff would lead to a lower prevalence of sexual violence as well.
According to Mauer (2004), the way society develops responses and policies to crime or other social problems are always dependent on various social, cultural, and political dynamics. Mauer reported that crime is addressed more punitively when it is defined as a crime that affects mostly oppressed groups. Addressing crime more harshly based on racial or class factors perpetuates societal inequalities (Mauer, 2004). Mauer suggested that inequality is rampant in the criminal justice system, which results in greater imprisonment of marginal groups. Considering Mauer's finding, it is probable that responses and policies regarding crime within the prison system are also influenced by similar dynamics, which further contribute to inequity for oppressed populations.
Kupers (2005) indicated that prison crowding would remain a factor that affects prisoners until the public, the government, and the courts modify sentencing guidelines and parole requirements. Further, Kupers stated that educational programs and rehabilitative efforts will remain futile until legislation is changed and that harsh punishment, including segregation to control inmates, will continue until administrative efforts are made to revolutionize these practices. With these dynamics at play, Kupers predicted that masculine roles of both inmates and staff, which he described as toxic, would continue to affect the prison culture and hence contribute to prisoner rape. Kupers further pointed to the hegemonic culture of prisons as a facet of prison sexual violence.