Prison - Jailhouse Rock

Next time you have a moment, lissten to the lyrics of Elvis Presley's Jailhouse Rock. The facts: Here in the U.S. you are 50 times more likely to be killed by a cop than by a terrorist. The cops are armed to the teeth. 95% of prosecutions are won by the prosecutors, 90% of which are won without a trial. We are 5% of the world's population, but house 25% of the world's prisoners. What's wrong with this picture?

Hard Time
Worst of the Worst - Chillicothe
When Young Kids Do Hard Time | (Full Prison Documentary)
Back on the Streets
Female Offenders
Replace the death penalty in California.
Lock up raw first day in prison
FISH: A Boy In A Man's Prison
National Geographics - America's.Hardest.Prisons.
Stateville, IL


News For June 13, 2023

It's Not My Problem
The Basics on Prisoner Rape
How to Survive the Slammer
Confronting Prison Rape
When Young Kids Do Hard Time | (Full Prison Documentary)
22% of Male Inmates Are Victims of Rape
Prison Bitch: Nothing Funny About It
There Are No Criminals, Just Broken Souls
"3-Strikes"? Why Not "2nd Chance"?
Parents in Prison
Modern Science vs. Politics
Evil Chicks Face Death
Gender Bias Okayed by Circuit Court
Abundance of Love
We All Have a Story to Share
Poems from Inside Prison
Volunteering in Prison



It's Not My Problem

"Number 47 said to number three
You're the cutest jailbird I ever did see.
I sure would be delighted with your company.
Come on and do the Jailhouse Rock with me."
-- Made popular by Elvis Presley

The book "Sleepers", about what happened inside a "home for boys", read institutional lockup, is a very telling story. It's interesting that the situation has received so little press. For the situation it presents is not that uncommon.

It is estimated that a man is raped every three and one-half seconds of every day in America (compared to once every 18 seconds for women). Is the fact that most of these rapes take place behind prison walls a reason to ignore it? The rape of women in prison sure isn't.

Unwelcome sex for incarcerated males is a horror that is nothing like the cheerful title song Elvis sang. Although some of the long-term same-sex couplings that exist inside the country's correctional facilities may be as viable as any outside, violent rape is the much more standard reality. The victims are more likely to be young, small, nonviolent, first offenders, middle-class, not 'streetwise', not gang affiliated, not part of the dominant ethnic group in that jail, without major fighting experience, and held in big-city jails. The more of these factors apply, the more likely the victimization. And, in many of these cases, correctional officers use prison rape - or the mere threat - as a management tool. Many guards, like many other law-and-order hard-liners, consider rape a prisoner's just desserts even though sexual assault is nothing less than torture. Rape, which no judge has ever declared a fit penalty for a crime, is inflicted daily on prisoners whose sole offense may have been an inability to make bail.

The rape of prisoners is a widespread phenomenon, which tends to be a repetitive problem for its victims, a deadly risk in the age of AIDS, a devastating experience whose psychological and physical consequences are known and described as Rape Trauma Syndrome. The problem of prison rape needs to be seen in the contexts both of violence and of sexuality. It is a practice which is ingrained in the culture of confinement, both among prisoners and prison officials. The injuries occasioned by prisoner rape are predictable and preventable using appropriate strategies.

Little has changed since Rev. Louis Dwight first investigated sexual abuse in American prisons in 1824, visiting "most of the prisons ... between Massachusetts and Georgia" and finding "melancholy testimony to establish one general fact. Boys are prostituted to the lust of old convicts." He pleaded "Nature and humanity cry aloud for redemption from this dreadful degradation." One hundred seventy years later, they still cry. The rape of males has long been a taboo subject, barricaded with popular misconceptions, and the phenomenon of prisoner rape (the term "homosexual rape" as the prison context is extremely misleading and should be avoided) is little discussed outside penological circles, nor is it understood despite its great importance in prison life.

Few aspects of incarceration are more horrifying than the prospect of sexual exploitation and forcible rape within jail and prison walls. It is a subject to which society reacts with a combination of fear, disgust, and denial. We don't want to believe that our criminal justice system tolerates such a cruel and unusual form of punishment. However, this is a brutal reality faced daily by inmates in crowded prisons and jails throughout the country. The issue of coerced sex will not simply go away. It is a fact of life for those behind bars.

No detailed survey of sexual assault in juvenile facilities has been published, but there is a general consensus that victimization rates (and the level of violence generally) are higher there than in adult institutions, and are usually against fourteen or fifteen year olds.

Once an inmate is raped, he is marked as a victim for repeated sexual assaults for the remainder of his imprisonment. Generally, those who are turned out (raped) and made into slaves remain slaves and never can get out of that. It's a "no-win" situation and the primary reason that prevents inmate victims from reporting the offense. Unless the victim is immediately removed from general population and remains in isolation or segregated for the remainder of his confinement, he will promptly become "marked" by the other prisoners as a "punk" and then subjected to repeated sexual aggression, virtually on a daily (or nightly) basis. (Close your eyes for a moment and imagine what that might be like for you if you were to ever spend a night in jail ... having a little too much to drink after a party, etc. (One in four men will spend the night in jail during his lifetime.) Segregation or "protective custody" is unpleasant and is not necessarily safe. Assaults against prisoners in "protective custody" are well documented.

If a rape victim does not commit suicide, he finds little alternative to continual gang-rape but to "hook up" (form a relationship) with a strong or feared prisoner (his "Man'), who uses him sexually in exchange for protecting him from other prisoners. Bonding between two homosexuals is not allowed within the prison culture. A homosexual or "kid" is expected to hook up with a "man" This is the unwritten law, and it is enforced.

The spread of HIV into prison populations has turned rape from a source of psychological and emotional devastation into a life-and-death issue with resulting illnesses that create havoc for the prisoner and new difficulties for systems all over the country. And, since prisoner rape is usually perpetrated by multiple rapists, and anal rape commonly involves tearing of the rectal lining and bleeding, thus affording easy transmission of the virus, it follows that prisoner rape is now a deadly threat to all victims. This has important consequences for rape victims which may not immediately be apparent to those on the outside. Anal rape carries a very high risk of infection while oral sex carries little or none. Thus the target of sexual assault, faced with a hopeless situation, may save his life by compromising and "cooperating" with his assailant. This may well appear "consensual" to institutional authorities, resulting in disciplinary charges against the victim, but in actuality there is no free choice in the face of such a threat.

The Stop Prisoner Rape people are convinced that most sexual assaults in confinement are preventable and that administrative actions and policies can and do make a significant difference for very little financial consideration:

1. Realistic orientation programs to warn new prisoners (the tapes and manual offered below).
2. Institution-wide staff training on rape issues.
3. Mandatory reporting to top prison officials of sexual assaults which become known to guards and other staff and prosecutorial-referral policies in cases where victims will testify.
4. Classification of all prisoners by rape risk factors and known histories and appropriate placement, both within an institution and among a jurisdiction's facilities.
5. Sympathetic treatment of rape victims, including trained counseling and serious consideration of housing change requests.
6. Establishment of protocols for rape intervention and investigation and for medical and psychiatric follow-up such as the one in force at the San Francisco county jail.
7. Reduction of prisoner idleness.

There are other projects like real protective custody, staff discrimination against homosexuals and stigmatization of rape victims, and ignoring the problem (which is as big a problem inside the prison as with the readers of this article). Consider taking some action now before you "just happen to have to spend the night in jail".

We're Sent to Prison to Find Out How to be Better Fathers

A Fox Television Special aired on Father's Day, June 16, 1998 called "Bad Dads". It was a powerful documentary featuring an extraordinary parenting program which is having remarkable success in turning "bad dads" into responsible, caring fathers. And, while I applaud such a film, it's sad that good fathers have to once again watch the press look at the negative fathers on their day. When was the last time you saw a "Bad Mom" special on Mother's Day. And, NOW's South Carolina Chapter making Sue Smith Woman of the Year, is not quite what I was thinking.

Modern Science vs. Politics

The headline of the above magazine ad reads "Thanks to Modern Science - 17 innocent people have been removed from death row. Thanks to Modern Politics - 23 innocent people have been removed from the living." Put you self in their place or their families place to find out that you were innocent, after they were put you death. The ad copy continues:

"On April 15, 1999, Ronald Keith Williamson walked away from Oklahoma State Prison a free man. An innocent man. He had spent the last eleven years behind bars. 'I did not rape or kill Debra Sue Carter,' he would shout day and night from his death row cell. His voice was so torn and raspy from his pleas for justice that he could barely speak. DNA evidence would eventually end his nightmare and prove his innocence. He came within five days of being put to death for a crime he did not commit.

"Anthony Porter also came within days of being executed. The state of Illinois halted his execution as it questioned whether or not Porter was mentally competent. Porter has an I.Q. of fifty-one. As the state questioned his competence, a journalism class at Northwestern University questioned his guilt. With a small amount of investigating, they managed to produce the real killer. After sixteen years on death row, Anthony Porter would find his freedom. He was lucky. He esaped with his life. A fate not shared by twenty-three other innocent men.

"The Chicago Tribune, in its five-part series "Death Row justice derailed," pronounced, 'Capital punishment in Illinois is a system so riddled with faulty evidence, unscrupuilous trial tactics, and legal incompetence that justice has been forsaken.'  The governor of Illinois recently declared a moratorium on the death penalty after the state had acquired the dubious honor of releasing more men from death row than it had executed.

"The unfairness that plagues every other state as well: incompetent lawyers, racial bias, and lack of access to DNA testing all inevitably lead to gross miscarriages of justice. As Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr., stated, 'Perhaps the bleakest fact of all is that the death penalty is imposed not only in a freakish and discriminatory manner, but also in some cases upon defendants who are actually innocent.'

"Even those who support capital punishment are finding it increasingly more difficult to endorce it in its current form. Capital punishment is a system that is deeply flawed - a system that preys on the poor and executes the innocent. It is a system that is fundamentally unjust and unfair. Please support efforts to have a moratorium on further executions declared now. Support the ACLU."


Substance Abuse and America's Prison Population

New CASA* Report finds::

  • 65 percent of all U.S. inmates meet medical criteria for substance abuse addiction.
  • Only 11 percent receive any treatment.
  • Alcohol implicated in 78 percent of violent crimes, 83 percent of property crimes, 77 percent of weapon, public order, other crimes.

Of the 2.3 million inmates crowding our nations prisons and jails, 1.5 million meet the DSM IV medical criteria for substance abuse or addiction, and another 458,000, while not meeting the strict DSM IV criteria, had histories of substance abuse; were under the influence of alcohol or other drugs at the time of their crime; committed their offense to get money to buy drugs; were incarcerated for an alcohol or drug law violation; or shared some combination of these characteristics, according to Behind Bars II: Substance Abuse and America’s Prison Population. Combined these two groups constitute 85 percent of the U.S. prison population.

The new 144-page report released today by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University also reveals that alcohol and other drugs are significant factors in all crime. In 2006, alcohol and other drugs were involved in these inmate offenses:

  • 78 percent of violent crimes;
  • 83 percent of property crimes; and
  • 77 percent of public order, immigration or weapon offenses; and probation/parole violations.

The CASA report found that only 11 percent of all inmates with substance abuse and addiction disorders receive any treatment during their incarceration. The report found that if all inmates who needed treatment and aftercare received such services, the nation would break even in a year if just over 10 percent remained substance and crime free and employed. Thereafter, for each inmate who remained sober, employed and crime free the nation would reap an economic benefit of $90,953 per year.

“States complain mightily about their rising prison costs; yet they continue to hemorrhage public funds that could be saved if they provided treatment to inmates with alcohol and other drug problems and stepped up use of drug courts and prosecutorial drug treatment alternative programs,” said Susan E. Foster, CASA’s Vice President and Director of Policy Research and Analysis.

Joseph A. Califano, Jr., CASA’s Chairman and President and former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, called the nation’s current prison policies, “Inane and inhuman. Between 1996 and 2006, the U.S. population grew by 12 percent. Over that same period, the number of adults incarcerated grew by 33 percent to 2.3 million inmates and the number of inmates who either met the DSM IV medical criteria for alcohol or other drug abuse and addiction or were otherwise substance involved shot up by 43 percent to 1.9 million inmates. The tragedy is that we know how to sharply reduce the costs of incarceration and the crimes committed by substance-involved offenders.”

The report also noted that in 2005, federal, state and local governments spent $74 billion on incarceration, court proceedings, probation and parole for substance-involved adult and juvenile offenders and less than one percent of that amount--$632 million--on prevention and treatment for them.*

Twelve years ago, CASA released Behind Bars: Substance Abuse and America's Prison Population. CASA prepared this report to see if any progress had been made in reducing the number of substance-involved offenders behind bars and to examine and identify promising practices for cost-effective investments. To conduct this study, CASA researchers analyzed data on inmates from 11 federal sources, reviewed more than 650 articles and other publications, examined best practices in prevention and treatment for substance-involved offenders, reviewed accreditation standards and analyzed costs and benefits of treatment.

“Despite increased recognition of the problem and its potential solutions, we have made no progress in reducing the number of substance-involved inmates crowding our prisons and jails. The United States has less than five percent of the world’s population and we consume two-thirds of the world’s illegal drugs and incarcerate almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners, more than eight of ten of whom have some substance involvement,” said Califano.

The CASA report also found that compared to non-substance involved inmates, substance-involved inmates are not only likelier to be re-incarcerated, begin their criminal careers at an early age, and have more contacts with the criminal justice system, but they are also:

Four times likelier to receive income through illegal activity;

Twice as likely to have had at least one parent who abused alcohol or other drugs when they were children;

41 percent likelier to have some family criminal history;

29 percent less likely to have completed at least high school; and

20 percent likelier to be unemployed a month before incarceration.

Other Key Findings

In 2006, an estimated one million substance-involved inmates were parents to more than 2.2 million minor children. Three quarters of these children were age 12 or younger.

Alcohol is implicated in the incarceration of more than half of all inmates in America; illicit drugs are implicated in three quarters of incarcerations.

Contrary to public perception, only two percent of all inmates are incarcerated for marijuana possession as their controlling or only offense.

A Call for Action

To reduce the number of substance-involved inmates crowding our prisons, improve the health of inmates and reduce crime, the CASA report offers specific recommendations in its call for action by the nation’s criminal justice systems and federal, state, and local governments including these:

Use trained health care professionals to screen, assess and treat substance-involved offenders and provide care for co-occurring physical and mental health problems.

Provide comprehensive pre-release planning and aftercare to continue treatment services for inmates with substance use disorders.

Require addiction treatment for inmates to be medically managed.

Expand the use of treatment-based alternatives to jail and prison.

Require accreditation for prison- and jail-based treatment programs and providers.

“This report lays out the steps we need to take to address the treatment needs of offenders while holding them accountable for their crimes,” noted Foster. “We do not as a nation refuse to provide treatment for other chronic ailments like heart disease or diabetes. We should do so for addictive disorders, especially when the added benefits of treatment for offenders include significant reductions in crime and its costs to society.”

CASA is the only national organization that brings together under one roof all the professional disciplines needed to study and combat all types of substance abuse as they affect all aspects of society. CASA and its staff of some 60 professionals has issued 71 reports and white papers, published three books, conducted demonstration programs focused on children, families and schools at 241 sites in 94 cities and counties in 35 states plus Washington, D.C. and two Native American reservations, held 19 conferences attended by professionals and others from 49 states and several foreign countries, and has been evaluating the effectiveness of drug and alcohol treatment and prevention in a variety of programs and drug courts. CASA is the creator of the nationwide initiative Family Day—A Day to Eat Dinner With Your ChildrenTM – the fourth Monday in September—the 27th in 2010—that promotes parental engagement as a simple and effective way to reduce children’s risk of smoking, drinking and using illegal drugs. The most recent CASA book, How To Raise a Drug Free Kid: The Straight Dope for Parents by Joseph A. Califano, Jr., a practical, user friendly book of advice and information for parents, is widely available in paperback and book events can be arranged for parents. For more information visit


* From CASA’s 2009 Shoveling Up II: The Impact of Substance Abuse on Federal, State and Local Budgets report. Contacts: Contacts: Lauren Duran, 212-841-5260, eMail or Sulaiman Beg, 212-841-5213, eMail

Prison Treatment Cuts Could Feed Recidivism in Calif.

An 80-percent reduction in prison addiction-treatment capacity could lead to a proportional increase in recidivism in California, some experts say.

The Contra Costa Times reported Nov. 12 that $1.2 billion in budget cuts for state prisons will mean that just 2,350 inmates will receive addiction treatment next year, down from 12,164. Nine-month programs will be cut to three months, which critics say could limit their effectiveness.

"Those inmates will have very little treatment service to deal with behavioral issues that they've spent years to develop, most of which was put on them from an early age," said Darrol Monfils, a counselor at the California Institution for Women. "Their chances of succeeding are slim."

"California prisoners will be paroling inmates with little or no rehabilitation," Monfils said. "They will be paroling with the same behaviors as they did when they arrived. Now, having said that, there will be a few exceptions to the rule, but they will be the larger minority."

A state corrections department spokesperson said the agency is "scientifically evaluating and assessing inmates, those at the highest risk of recidivism and so we are targeting our resources to that population group and identifying what their needs are."

David Conn, senior vice president for treatment provider Mental Health Systems, Inc., said the state made the cuts only reluctantly. "These were sort of last-minute budget cuts to balance the budget, and everyone agrees it's probably a foolish decision," he said. "Individuals who are incarcerated to support drug habits will not receive substance abuse treatment. The likelihood of them reoffending increases significantly."

Parents in Prison

There are currently about 10 million children under 18 in the US who have had parents imprisoned at some time. And while there has been some press concerning incarcerated mothers and their children, little has been said about the impact on children when their father's are incarcerated.

Xiara's Song, a Cinemax documentary, is about a girl who has had tough lessons because her dad is behind bars. It details the difficult but loving relationship between the smart, pretty 7-year-old and her father, who is serving 10 years in prison for weapons possession. She lives with her mother in Maryland. Althought Xiara's story might seem downbeat, director Liz Garbus sees hope. It is about her love for her father and the strength of that love despite enormous barriers.

The film tries to show the troubling effects of incarceration on children. They are the innocent victims in this and their voices are seldom heard.

The filmmakers know the value of family spoort. The direction, Liz Garbus, daugther of well-known attorney Martin Garbus, says her father's work on social issues has influenced her film work. "I grew up with both parents in my home (and) enormous love and support."

Rory Kennedy, producer of the film, also comes from a strong family, which taught her to think about those on the margins of society. But she had to grow up without her father, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1968, six months before she was born.

Children of deceased parents have no chance of contact; those of jailed parents do. "That we're not (allowed parental/child contact) in cases where the kids want it is not very humane," Kennedy says.
Source: USA Today, June 17, 2995

Missouri Prisoners Get to Practice on Hitman Video

Missouri's largest maximum security prison is filled with murderers, armed robbers, and other violent felons. So perhaps it wasn't such a good idea to stock the rec room with video games like “Hitman: Contracts” and “Grand Theft Auto." You really don't want these cons practicing their pistolero skills on a PlayStation prior to rejoining society. Details at

Prison Populations on the Rise

The nation's prison population grew by almost 3% in the year ended June 30, 2003, the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics reported. It was the largest percentage increase in four years. The report attributes much of the increase to policies enacted during the 1980s and 1990s, such as mandatory drug sentences, "three-strikes-and-you're-out" laws for repeat offenders, and "truth-in-sentencing" that restrict early releases. As of June 30, the nation's prisons and jails held 2,078,570 men and women, the BJS reported. About a third of the inmates were serving short sentences or awaiting trials in local jails. The greatest percentage increase came at the federal level, where the prison population grew 5.4%. The state prison population grew 2.6%..
Source: USA Today

You Think What We Do to Iraqi Prisoners is Bad?

Most Americans were shocked by the sadistic treatment of Iraqi detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison. But we shouldn't have been. Not only are inmates at prisons in the U.S. frequently subjected to similarly grotesque treatment, but Congress passed a law in 1996 to ensure that in most cases they were barred from receiving any financial compensation for the abuse.

We routinely treat prisoners in the United States like animals. We brutalize and degrade them, both men and women. And we have a lousy record when it comes to protecting well-behaved, weak and mentally ill prisoners from the predators surrounding them. For the entire article, go to

Prison Rape Elimination Act Becomes Federal Law

The Prison Rape Elimination Act has been signed into law marking the first time the U.S. government has ever passed a law to deal with sexual assault behind bars.

Reform Plan Targets Prison Rape

Rapes in the American prison system, for decades considered a sordid fact of life, will be analyzed and targeted for prevention under a new government program that marks a sea change in the awareness of sexual assaults by and against incarcerated men and women.

The Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003, which drew bipartisan support and was passed unanimously by Congress yesterday, establishes a system of grants and reforms that will cost $60 million a year. The centerpiece is an annual survey by the U.S. Department of Justice that will be the most sweeping study ever made of sexual assault in prisons, congressional sponsors and criminal justice experts said.

"It's been a long, strange battle, but I think everyone has come to understand that a prison sentence in the United States should not include rape as added punishment," said Rep. Frank R. Wolf, (R-Va.), a House co-sponsor of the bill, along with Rep. Robert C. "Bobby" Scott (D-Va.).

The annual study, based on surveys from 10 percent of the nation's 8,700 correctional institutions, including at least one in every state, will be analyzed by a commission. That panel, whose members have not been named, will establish national standards designed to prevent and prosecute prison rapes.

States and correctional institutions that continue to have high assault rates will have their directors summoned to Washington. Some states and institutions could lose federal funding or accreditation if problems persist, said Michael Horowitz, director of the conservative Hudson Institute, which coordinated the three dozen groups that supported the bill.

Congressional sponsors ranged from Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) to Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), and supporting agencies ranged from the Christian Coalition to the NAACP. "Everyone has basic human rights, even if they are being dealt with and sanctioned for inappropriate social behavior, and prison should not take those away," said Shannon Royce, legislative counsel for the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, the policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, explaining how she came to be working alongside such groups as Amnesty International USA and the National Council of La Raza. "I'm just ecstatic," said Keith DeBlasio, 35, who was sentenced for credit card and securities fraud in Maryland and Virginia, then raped in federal prison in 1995. The assaults left him HIV-positive. "This law is a first step, and the first step is that we have to acknowledge what's going on."

Through decades of prison lore and experience in the United States, inmate-on-inmate rapes, sometimes with guards' consent or indifference, have become a brutal pop culture image of jailhouse life. With large numbers of often violent men locked up with no access to women, the idea that smaller, weaker or disadvantaged inmates would be raped, or "punked out," has often been regarded as inevitable. Rape is also a problem in women's prisons. One Texas inmate won a $4 million civil suit this year in a federal suit against a male guard she accused of raping her.

"Tradition isn't the right word, but rape in prison is something like common knowledge," said Tyrone Parker, a former inmate who is executive director of the Alliance of Concerned Men, a D.C.-based agency that works with inmates and ex-offenders. "If you've been in prison, you've seen it and know about it."

No one knows, though, exactly how common prison rapes are, or even how to properly define the act. In addition to the shame and stigma, inmates who report rape face violent retribution from their assailants, former inmates said in interviews. This leads to few reports being filed.

The most comprehensive report was in 2001, when Human Rights Watch surveyed inmates in 34 states and sent surveys to all 50 directors of state-run prisons. Their report, "No Escape," which incorporated earlier studies of prison assaults, said rapes were clearly a serious and widespread problem. It noted, however, that prison officials often discounted the issue.

The disparity between inmate reports and prison officials estimates was highlighted in Nebraska.

An academic study team found in a 1996 study that 22 percent of Nebraska inmates reported being pressured or forced to have sex against their will, with about half reporting being raped. Extrapolated nationally, that study would indicate that more than 140,000 prisoners are assaulted each year.

But the year after that study, the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services told Human Rights Watch that the number of rapes was "minimal." Four states and the federal Bureau of Prisons said they had more than 50 reported assaults each year.

The idea that rape is common is "a flat-out lie," said Reginald Wilkinson, director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, the nation's sixth-largest prison system, and president of the Association of State Correctional Administrators.

With 45,000 inmates in Ohio's prisons on any given day, Wilkinson said, there are no more than "one or two attacks a month."

Wilkinson noted that it is often difficult in a prison setting, where sex is sold, bartered or engaged in willingly, for officers to be able to prove and prosecute an assault.

Jerome Lee, who served 10 years for armed robbery in the District before being released six years ago, said men who went into prison with connections, who had a tough street reputation or who quickly bonded with large Christian or Muslim groups, were not likely to be attacked.

But men who were not attached to preexisting groups or who were short-timers lodged with older inmates doing long sentences were almost certain to be assaulted.

"It's almost like tribes in there, in that if you're not quickly aligned with a group, you're going to be in a lot of trouble," said Lee, who obtained a college degree after his release and works at a nonprofit agency. "If you're a lone wolf -- you're as dead as Fred. They'll come at you with a knife. You tell the guards, and they'll kill you for it."
Source: Neely Tucker,

The Rape of Men to be Banned?

In 1991, Human Rights Watch published its ground-breaking report, "No Escape: Male Rapes in U.S. Prisons," which can be found at reports/2001/prison/report.html

It is hard to tell how often rapes occur, because inmates who have been raped are very reluctant to report the incident, for fear of retaliation. But Chapter 7 of the Human Rights Watch report summarizes studies that conclude that 22% of male inmates have been sexually abused, and 7% have been raped. These figures suggest that rape of males occurs more often than the rape of females.

But to this point in time, male rape has been explained away with the "they deserve it" excuse. But with so many unemployed men in jail for non-payment of child support, we need to question our neglect of male rape.

Recently, Senators Kennedy and Sessions and Representatives Wolf and Scott have introduced the "Prison Rape Reduction Act of 2002," S. 2619 and H.R. 4943. This law would will establish programs to prevent and investigate male rape.

Prison Rape - It's No Joke

"The opposite of compassion is not hatred, it's indifference." These words were written by a prisoner who was severely beaten after refusing demands for sex from another inmate.

While often the subject of jokes on late-night TV, prison rape is no laughing matter. It has terrible consequences, not just for the inmates who are brutalized, but for our communities as well. The rate of HIV in prisons today is 10 times higher than in the general population.

Every rape in prison can turn a sentence for a nonviolent crime into a death sentence.

Prison rape leads to other types of death, also. Rodney Hulin set a dumpster on fire in his neighborhood. Despite being only 16 years old, he was sentenced to eight years in an adult prison, where he was repeatedly beaten and raped. Despite his pleas for help, no one in authority intervened to help him. He was told to fend for himself. Depressed and unwilling to face the remainder of his sentence at the mercy of sexual predators, Rodney Hulin committed suicide. Similar suicides have occurred in jails and prisons across the United States.

Experts estimate that at least one in 10 inmates is raped in prison. Because 95 percent of prisoners will eventually be released back into our communities, the horrors that occur inside prison have consequences for the rest of us, too.

Some who suffer through brutal rapes become predators themselves, both in prison and after their release, subjecting other innocent victims to the same degradation that they experienced. Or they vent their rage in other acts of violence, often racially motivated. One example is the tragic story of James Byrd, the black man who was picked up by three white supremacists, beaten, chained to the back of their pickup truck and dragged for three miles to his death. One of his assailants was John William King, a burglar who had recently been released after serving a three-year sentence in one of Texas' toughest prisons.

When King arrived at the prison, a group of white supremacists reportedly conspired with the guards to place King in the "black" section of the prison. At just 140 pounds, King was unable to defend himself against a group of black prisoners who repeatedly gang-raped him. This was exactly what the white power gang wanted. Filled with hatred, King was easily recruited into their group for protection. Over the remainder of his sentence, they filled King's head full of hatred for blacks. When he was released, John King unleashed that pent-up hatred on James Byrd. The gang-rapes he endured in prison are no excuse for his murder of James Byrd, but they certainly help us understand what could lead him to hate so much.

As troubling as the incidence of rape is, equally disturbing is the attitude of many government officials who are indifferent to it. When asked about prison rape, Massachusetts Department of Correctionspokesman Anthony Carnevales said, "Well, that's prison . . . I don't know what to tell you." In that offhand remark, he was expressing what many feel in their hearts but are loathe to admit — "they deserve it."

But they don't deserve it. Regardless of the crimes they have committed, no offender's sentence includes being raped while in the custody of the government. By its very nature, imprisonment means a loss of control over the circumstances in which inmates live. They cannot choose their neighbors ( i.e., their cellmates), nor arm themselves, nor take other steps to protect themselves. Because the government has total control over where and how inmates live, it is the government's responsibility to make sure they aren't harmed while in custody.

Sens. Kennedy and Sessions and Reps. Wolf and Scott have teamed up to sponsor the "Prison Rape Reduction Act of 2002," S. 2619 and H.R. 4943, which would establish standards for investigating and eliminating rape, and hold the states accountable if they fail to do so.

Winston Churchill said that the manner in which a society treats criminals "is one of the most unfailing tests of the civilization of any country." As Congress rushes to complete its work before the election recess, it is important that they take the time to deal with the scandal of prison rape, and, in doing so, meet Churchill's test of a civilized society.
Source: Pat Nolan, Washington Times,

Rape in Prison

It happens in every movie.

Due no doubt to some hilarious mix-up, a slim, clean-cut male character is thrown into a jail cell occupied by a buff, tattooed behemoth who is starved for affection. At first, the behemoth is coy. He watches the new buy, then bashfully looks away. He compliments the new guy's pants. Eventually, he makes his move. What happens next cannot be recounted in a family magazine like Stuff. Except for the part where the little guy gets raped.

The Reality

Prison rape does happen-but less than you might think, if you think that one-in-five male inmates will be forced into sexual contact isn't much, this according to a study by the Prison Journal. What makes you a likely candidate for rape?  Being young, unassertive, white and on the feminine side (small stature, long hair). First-time offenders and child molesters are also more apt to be singled out. The four out of five inmates who don't get raped? They didn't see nothin'.

Source: Stuff, 10/01

Ballot to Stop all Executions

Illinois is the first state to impose a moratorium on executions since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. After the 13th innocent man was released from Illinois' Death Row, Governor George Ryan - a longtime supporter of the death penalty -admitted that "the system is broken."  In Ryan's own words, the death penalty system is "fraught with error and has come so close to the ultimate nightmare...Until I can be sure with moral certainty that no innocent man or woman is facing a lethal injection, no one will meet that fate." Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL) has introduced legislation to place a 7-year moratorium on all executions nationwide. Illinois is a glaring example of what's wrong with the death penalty everywhere. It kills innocent people. It's racist. And, it punishes the poor. Contact the Campaign to End the Death Penalty for a ballot at PO Box 352, 915 Cole St, San Francisco, CA 94117 or 415.789.8363 or If you've ever circulated one of those phoney petitions via the internet, here's an opportunity to make up for that and circulate an honest one that can save innocent lives.

Two-thirds of America's Death Sentences are Overturned

"It's not just one case, it's not just one state. Error was found at epidemic levels across the country."  Columbia University law professor James Liebman, commenting on a study showing that two-thirds of America's death sentences are overturned on appeal due to serious errors in the legal process.

Life and Death in the Big House

Gear magazine devotes 10 pages on their May issue to the writings of Michael Lee Wood, a probably lifer who has been in prison since he was 18. He's now 40. The subhead tells what life inside prison is like:  "Stabbings. Murder. Revenge. Survival. In 23 years he has seen and done it all. From inside the nation's toughest prison, he tells his story" from Supermax, a federal pen in the high desert plains of Colorado. It is said to be the toughest prison in the U.S. with prisoners held in solitary isolation 23 hours a day. Read this and if it fits, maybe you'll think twice before doing something that might get you a free ticket to prison - fighting, especially with a woman or child, using a weapon, selling drugs. Even having conscential sex with your wife. Did you know that having oral sex with your wife in Louisiana is a felony and you could do time in state prison. In Washington, D.C. it is a felony for anyone to have oral sex. And, if she's under 18 in many states, even if you are younger, you could do time. In a country that supposedly values freedom of choice, we sure have a lot of ways to lock you up if you actually practice your freedom, even in the privacy of your own bedroom. Read the article. Think about it. Are you ready to experience what life is like inside the Big House?

We're Sent to Prison to Find Out How to be Better Fathers

A Fox Television Special aired on Father's Day, 1998 called "Bad Dads". It was a powerful documentary featuring an extraordinary parenting program which is having remarkable success in turning "bad dads" into responsible, caring fathers. And, while I applaud such a film, it's sad that good fathers have to once again watch the press look at the negative fathers on their day. When was the last time you saw a "Bad Mom" special on Mother's Day. And, NOW's South Carolina Chapter making Sue Smith Woman of the Year, is not quite what I was thinking.

Literature Review of Trauma-Informed Approaches for Programs Serving Fathers in Reentry

Many fathers who are incarcerated have experienced some form of trauma in early life. These past traumatic experiences can affect how these men reenter society and how they reconnect with and support their families. A report released by the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation within Administration for Children and Families of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services discusses trauma and reentry and how responsible fatherhood programs should take a trauma-informed approach to the services they offer to ensure positive outcomes for fathers and their families.

Researchers conducted a literature review that included 40 full-text journal articles as well as unpublished literature, such as project reports, white papers, and government reports, published between 2000 and 2016. They also conducted an environmental scan and identified 41 programs that seemed to take a trauma-informed approach or provide trauma-specific services. Of those programs, researchers selected six that serve recently incarcerated fathers and held 1-hour interviews with the program directors to gain an understanding of how the programs implemented trauma-informed approaches and the challenges and barriers they face.

The study produced the following findings:

  • There is a prevalence of trauma among fathers who are reentering society.
  • Trauma can hinder positive outcomes for fathers participating in fatherhood programs.
  • Healing can occur through interactions with sympathetic and empathetic individuals, not just clinical professionals.

The report also provides the following important key steps to making sure fatherhood programs are trauma informed:

  • Commit to taking a systematic trauma-informed approach throughout the entire organization's policies and procedures.
  • Make sure all staff are trained in recognizing and responding to trauma.
  • Screen all program participants for signs of trauma.
  • Refer fathers in need of clinical treatment for their trauma to gender and culturally appropriate services.

To read the report, Trauma-Informed Approaches for Programs Serving Fathers in Re-Entry: A Review of the Literature and Environmental Scan, visit (531 KB).

One in five American men have spent at least a night in jail.
Of the 142 who were executed between 1976-1990, 79 were white, 56 were black and 7 were Latino.

I was accused of robbing a gas station of $70...I agreed to confess in return for a light county jail sentence...They tossed me into the penitentiary with one to life. That was in 1960. I was eighteen years old. I've been here ever since."  George Jackson, 1970

He'd forgotten just how addictive crime can be. Repeat offenders are motivated more by withdrawal symptoms than necessity. - Sue Grafton

To give dignity to a man is above all things. - Indian proverb