"The Justice Department estimates that more than 209,400 people are sexually abused in US detention every year… A great deal has been learned about this over the past few years. The [Prison Rape Elimination Act] legislation, which charged the [Bureau of Justice Statistics] with undertaking annual statistical analyses of the problem that have proved indispensable, also created a body called the Review Panel on Prison Rape.… A commission charged with issuing recommendations didn’t do so until six years after the bill’s passage; then Attorney General Eric Holder missed by nearly two years the statutory deadline for promulgating them. But the standards that Holder’s Department of Justice finally did issue are very strong."
In other positive criminal justice news, the US Department of Justice has issued long overdue rules for combating sexual assault of prisoners in federal, state, and local penitentiaries. [more inside]
Stories from Inside: Prisoner Rape and the War on Drugs (PDF). A new report by the human rights group Stop Prisoner Rape. [Via Drug WarRant.]
More Prison abuse. How un-American! Inmates were raped, starved and beaten. Some beaten to death, forced to perform oral sex on other prisioners... The list goes on and on. But this didn't happen in Iraq; it happens in America every day. How un-American, indeed.
DNA frees 3 convicts after 17-year incarcerations --Barry Scheck and The Innocence Project have struck again. Thus far, they have used DNA to free 128 wrongly convicted people. Read Frontline's interview with Scheck. Learn about a sister organization, Northwestern's Center on Wrongful Convictions, which has freed nine Illinois men who were once sentenced to death. For those sentenced to time in the can, prison can be a rough place. How can we prevent innocent people from being put to death? Or fates worse than death?
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).
ACLU files a lawsuit on behalf of black gay prisoner Roderick Johnson against several Texas prisons who ignored his pleas for protection against gangs who "bought and sold Mr. Johnson as a chattel, raped and degraded him on a virtual daily basis, and threatened him with death if he resisted." During one hearing, Johnson was allegedly forced by a prison gang member to appear before the committee in makeup. This invited the alleged derision of the classification committee members: "If you want to be a ho, you'll be treated like a ho." Another member allegedly said, "You ain't nothing but a dirty tramp. Learn to fight or accept the f--king."