Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Moral Scandal of Prison Rape

Surely one of the blackest eyes on the American national character is our society's willingness to not only tolerate, but approve of and joke about rape -- that is, the rape that goes on inside prison walls. Cathy Young:

At present, it is very difficult—virtually impossible in some states—for inmates who have been raped to collect damages from the prison system. Guards who neglect or even condone inmate-on-inmate assaults run virtually no risk of punishment. Other serious measures to combat prison rape would include both “conservative” solutions (stricter prisoner supervision) and “liberal” ones (less overcrowding).

Even lower-end estimates given by correctional organizations suggest that 20,000 to 40,000 inmates are sexually assaulted in American prisons every year. Those are figures no civilized society should accept.

Amen. Hat tip to Glenn Reynolds.


Art said...

Why not start with employing both the liberal and conservative solutions to their utmost and see where that gets us?

John said...

I don't follow, Art. Please explain

Matthew said...

I'm glad to see that Instapundit and others are bringing light to this issue. I took an ethics class in seminary and when it came time to write our final paper, Dr. Pohl said that she preferred papers that dealt with issues other than the ones she always got (abortion, homosexuality, domestic abuse, and others).

When I turned in my paper on prison rape, she said, "Well, I've certainly never seen a paper on this topic before!"

While I got an A on the paper, what I really got out of it was a deep sense that prison rape is dehumanizing. I remember reading somewhere that N.T. Wright, when asked what hell was. Wright goes back to Genesis, and makes a firm note that what really makes us human is that we bear the image of God. Through worshipping idols other than God, we strip ourselves of that image and ultimately what makes us human. The punishment and consequence of hell is that those in hell exist as something unhuman.

Using these terms, I certainly see prison rape as hell on earth as the victim, not by his choice, is stripped of his humanity in a vile and brutal way. Which may or may not account for the way victims rarely return to society as productive citizens.

Check out if you want to help.

John said...

That's an important paper to write, and an important issue to confront.

What does it say about our culture that we consider rape to be a part of the punishment for a felony conviction?