Skip

Sex in prison, an insiders view.
May 27, 2002 1:16 PM   Subscribe

Sex in prison, an insiders view. There's been a couple of threads in MeTa about the inappropriateness of jokes about prison rape (#1, #2). I've been reluctant to challenge some of the most severe hand-wringing over the subject in question, but this article from someone in the UK pretty much covers it. No easy answers, just some thoughts from someone who's actually been an inmate (and see inside thread for more).
posted by WolfDaddy (23 comments total)

 
Though I've never admitted it in a public forum 'til now, I once spent a year in a US federal penitentiary nearly twenty years ago. And while prison rape does unfortunately occur, it is not (as is often assumed) the de facto standard and in most cases the screws were on top of things to defuse that particular type of violence.

What they nearly always failed to stop, and what the author of the article I linked mentions, is specific incidences of violence sparked by so called 'lover's quarrels'.

No one also seems to want to think about the not un-appreciable amount of recidivism caused by (usally sexual, but not always) relationships between men in prison. Imagine someone in a relationship with a lifer, who, upon release commits another crime and lets himself be caught to return to that selfsame lifer.

No one wants to look at male emotionality and sexuality in this light. The author of the article touches upon it, and admits there are no easy answers. Neither do I, but, well, all I ask is you think about today's prison societies without thinking about prison rape from time to time. It will blind you to greater problems if you let it.
posted by WolfDaddy at 1:22 PM on May 27, 2002


That's a great post, WolfDaddy. The write evokes a lifestyle I hadn't ever really imagined. Thanks.

(And rape isn't mentioned at all.)
posted by Marquis at 1:25 PM on May 27, 2002


WolfDaddy, there's definately a difference between federal and state prisons. The federal prisons are called 'country clubs' for a reason. You simply get your most violent offenders in state prisons. From the human rights watch:
No conclusive national data exist regarding the prevalence of prisoner-on-prisoner rape in the United States. But the most recent statistical survey, published in the Prison Journal, showed that 21 percent of inmates in seven Midwestern prisons had experienced at least one episode of pressured or forced sex since being incarcerated, and at least 7 percent had been raped in their facility. And an internal departmental survey of corrections officers in one southern state found that line officers — those charged with the direct supervision of inmates — estimated that roughly one-fifth of all prisoners were being coerced into participation in inmate-on-inmate sex.hrw article
At least 7% in prisons that hold thousands? I wouldn't dismiss it as mostly mythology just yet.
posted by skallas at 2:04 PM on May 27, 2002


there is humor in everything.... moral of this story is not to comit a crime in the first place
posted by surfmoc at 5:40 PM on May 27, 2002


moral of this story is not to comit a crime in the first place

Or what? How exactly is that the moral of a story about sex in prison?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 7:32 PM on May 27, 2002


Well, y'know, if the reputation of prisons as being a fairly nice place with free food, free television, free tennis, free weight-room, free social networking, and a good chance of getting out after serving less than 1/10th of one's prison term were to be tarnished by a reputation for savage anal rape, perhaps a few more of our less-savoury members of society would think twice before car-jacking our grannies or sticking a gun in the face of the 7-11 clerk.

Prison terms do not seem to be functioning as a deterrent these days. Why, pray tell is that?
posted by five fresh fish at 9:17 PM on May 27, 2002


moral of this story is not to comit a crime in the first place

Hey, surfmoc: Do you think getting raped 60+ times during a two-day prison stay for a nonviolent protest against the bombing of Cambodia is just punishment for the "crime"?

I understand WolfDaddy's point (and respect his honesty), but prison rape is still a horrific reality that's way too common. "Don't commit a crime in the first place" is a classic head-in-the-sand response to that reality.
posted by mediareport at 10:37 PM on May 27, 2002


Fresh: The Canadian penal system is a cakewalk compared to ours in the US, yet they have less violent crime. Crime is a pretty complex problem, but I'm pretty sure it's solution isn't "scaring people straight." I mean, is the only reason you don't murder and rape your fear of being incarcerated?
posted by Doug at 11:06 PM on May 27, 2002


All imprisonment should be solitary. You are sent there to be removed from society, not to form another.
posted by pracowity at 1:05 AM on May 28, 2002


mediareport,
I apologize if I've given you (and skallas) the impression that I want to dismiss prison rape. I don't. What I do want to do is to inform you that there's a ton of documentation, well linked here and in other threads, about 7% of the sexually active men in our prison system.

If you'd like to believe that the other 93% of men in our prison system are not sexually active outside of masturbation, that's between you and the people who give us statistics. I regret that I haven't been able to convince others to put aside one aspect of the consequences of incarceration to consider another. Nobody seems to want to, and that's ... a little sad, for many reasons, I guess. The relative difficulty of finding an honest account on the 'net of sex in prison that didn't involve rape and wasn't wank material (or, oddly, X-Files slash) disappointed me, which is why I posted what I did, and backed it up with my own personal experience, however reluctantly.

Denial on this scale is interesting. To me, at least.
posted by WolfDaddy at 3:08 AM on May 28, 2002


" The Canadian penal system is a cakewalk compared to ours in the US, yet they have less violent crime."

I'm sure I'll upset a few Americans by saying this, but the American culture is very violent in all aspects. It's not at all surprising to me that Canadian prisons report a much lower rape rate than American prisons. It's just a natural extension of the violence that permeates American culture.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:22 AM on May 28, 2002


Wolfdaddy, Skallas quotes that 7% were raped. Unless they raped themselves, the percentage of sexually active inmates involved in rape must be higher, no?

And regardless of how small the actual incidence of prison rape is, I've got to believe it's a hell of a lot more prevalent than people committing crimes just to go back to prison to be with their lover.

I think you also make a mistake in thinking that just because there was a lukewarm reaction to this thread that people deny consensual sex inside prisons. We all assume that there is sex inside prison, but really, what is there to discuss about that? The article you linked isn't as provocative as you think it is. Why don't you raise some of the issues involved?
posted by Doug at 9:23 AM on May 28, 2002


All imprisonment should be solitary. You are sent there to be removed from society, not to form another.

Hmm, I'd rather my tax dollars not go toward making sure our criminals are solitary.
posted by Modem Ovary at 9:50 AM on May 28, 2002


If you'd like to believe that the other 93% of men in our prison system are not sexually active outside of masturbation...

What makes you think I believe that? I said I understand your point, WolfDaddy, and I do. There are lots of complex emotional realities between guys, in prison and out. I'm sure J/O buddies who don't consider themselves "gay" exist in both places.

But no one's been making jokes here about, you know, guys helping each other out in a friendly way, or about slightly bi guys who fool around when no women are around, or even about gay men in prison hooking up consensually. The jokes have been about rape, which is the reason the responses have focused on rape.
posted by mediareport at 9:53 AM on May 28, 2002


> Hmm, I'd rather my tax dollars not go toward making
> sure our criminals are solitary.

Why? Is there some punishment that you want to encourage prisoners to inflict upon one another?
posted by pracowity at 10:43 AM on May 28, 2002


Solitary confinement is no less than torture.
posted by sudama at 10:46 AM on May 28, 2002


> Solitary confinement is no less than torture.

If solitary confinement is torture, what is it when prisons throw you in with very nasty characters and turn their backs? Imprisonment is torture, one way or the other. I would much rather be imprisoned alone than be locked in with most of the guys in prison.
posted by pracowity at 10:55 AM on May 28, 2002


I agree. Solitary confinement is a punishment that would come wholly from the state and would be, if nothing else, fair and equal to each prisoner. Prison rape (fighting, whatever) is a "punishment" by proxy and circumstance and definitely cruel and unusual in nature - far worse than the torture of solitary confinement. However, I've read that solitary confinement breaks prisoners rather quickly for whatever reason. If so, I'd also reduce the sentences in general.
posted by furiousthought at 12:13 PM on May 28, 2002


skallas - I'm wondering if you've been in both federal and state prisons? If not, you have a lot of balls telling someone who spent a year in federal prison that they had it easy.
posted by SiW at 4:15 PM on May 28, 2002


Solitary confinement is no less than torture.

I think its safe to say if someone's in solitary they most likely tortured someone to get there. Boo-hoo.
posted by owillis at 4:36 PM on May 28, 2002


"moral of this story is not to comit a crime in the first place

Or what? How exactly is that the moral of a story about sex in prison?"


easy. don't commit a crime. don't go to jail. don't become some bad man's wife.

duh. big red truck.
posted by jcterminal at 8:29 PM on May 28, 2002


> I think its safe to say if someone's in solitary they most
> likely tortured someone to get there. Boo-hoo.

That's not true, owillis. There are real people in prison for doing things that caused no pain to anyone. Have you no compassion for anything but that little dog?

> easy. don't commit a crime. don't go to jail. don't
> become some bad man's wife.

That's like telling a woman it's easy not to get raped, just don't walk down the street. Prisons, like army barracks and schools and government office buildings, are not supposed to be rape factories.
posted by pracowity at 10:47 PM on May 28, 2002


easy. don't commit a crime. don't go to jail. don't become some bad man's wife.

Huh? "Jail" is where a lot of poor people wind up before they get a trial.

Try talking with a public defender sometime. I know one who has choice words for a system where 98% of the people awaiting trial in jail are poor. Unlike the clients this woman sees, most of us could probably raise $1000 bail in a pinch from friends or family. But some indigent defendants spend more time in jail waiting for their trial than the maximum sentence they'd get if they were found guilty. How fucked is that?
posted by mediareport at 11:11 PM on May 28, 2002


« Older Bush takes to insulting his critics   |   Glurge. Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post