Search our Site:

sitemap | IMPACT home


June/July '01 Articles:

The Chemical Industry Exposed

Editorial:
Juvenile (In)justice

Mindpower:
A Taboo Subject

FIERCE.com-the IMPACT Column

Overpriced Musings:
Dinosaur Fuel

Fish Are Not Swimming Vegetables

Quickies
(music reviews)

The Muddlemarch: 1

The Muddlemarch: 2

(Th)ink


E-Mail Us
Your Comments


Archives

Subscribe to IMPACT

Buy IMPACT T-Shirts

Ordering Back Issues

Home



A Taboo Subject

"The horrors experienced by many young inmates, particularly those who are convicted of nonviolent offenses, border on the unimaginable. Prison rape not only threatens the lives of those who fall prey to their aggressors, but it is potentially devastating to the human spirit. Shame, depression, and a shattering loss of self-esteem accompany the perpetual terror the victim thereafter must endure." -- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun

I wasn't quite sure if I had the stomach to write about this subject.Reading the graphic, personal accounts was almost enough to force me to change what I planned on writing about.

Still, I felt that this was something that must be told. For too long this subject has been ignored and buried in the ground with the hopes that no one would dig it up.

So, that is why I am writing this article about male prison rape.

According to Stop Prisoner Rape (an organization committed to combating the rape of male and female prisoners and to helping survivors of jailhouse rape), every year 196,000 male adults are raped in our nation's prisons; 123,000 male adults are raped in jails; and 40,000 juvenile males are raped in juvenile and adult facilities.

Studies have shown that the typical rape victim is a non-violent offender with a small body frame and is young and white. This does not mean that a black or Hispanic person won't get "punked." (In prison, the word "punk" often means "the one who gets fucked.")

Once a victim is "turned out" (meaning, he gets punked by a prisoner), he will forever be the target of further sexual attacks. Sometimes, he will be forced into sexual slavery; that is, either being pimped to other inmates in exchange for candy or cigarettes or being forced to give sexual favors in exchange for protection. If an inmate fears that he will be raped, he can ask to be placed in protective custody; however, this only makes him appear weak to the other inmates.

Some inmates are even raped while in protective custody.

In the past, the rape of male inmates has been mislabeled as "homosexual rape." This is misleading. The rapists themselves are usually heterosexual. In prison, the macho "male" or "husband" never gets penetrated. That is the female role of the "punk" or "wife." Similarly going against the label of "homosexual rape," the punk, too, is often heterosexual.

Now, some folks reading this may be saying, "So what? They do the crime, they do the time. Prison isn't supposed to be a country club."

It is true that criminals must pay for the crimes that they commit. There are those who should be thrown intoa maximum-security facility forever, with no hopes of parole.

With that said and done, I still don't believe in cruel and unusual punishment. No matter what a person has done, no one should be placed in a situation where they can be sexually assaulted. To think otherwise would make me nearly as deviant as the sicko who does the raping. As for the prison guards who look the other way during the rape and this does happen they should be held accountable and fired from their jobs.

As the prison business continues to boom, Stop Prisoner Rape says, "Overcrowded and understaffed institutions (including mental hospitals) are the chief reasons for rape. The War on Drugs, which never ever had anything to do with health, has greatly exacerbated prisoner rape." Understaffing could have a lot to do with why rape is tolerated by prison officials.

An article by the Internet magazine Salon.com ("Guarding their silence," Nov. 22, 1999) tells the story of a case alleging an inmate was intentionally placed in a cell with the Booty Bandit, a.k.a. Wayne Robertson, a known serial rapist. The Booty Bandit raped the inmate as a way of whipping him into place. For his work, Robertson was given a new pair of sneakers and extra food. Robertson admitted he raped the inmate for two days, because the guards said the inmate needed to "learn how to do his time."

If these immoral practices don't change one's mind about prison rape, maybe this next fact will: victims of prison rape return to the streets as very pissed-off individuals. A classic example of the pissed-off victim is that of white supremacist John William King. A small, 140-pound King was serving 21 months in a Texas prison for burglary. During his stay, he was raped by black inmates. This, according to his attorney, is what led him to drag African-American James Byrd to his death in 1998.

Another reason to think about prison rape victims being turned loose on the streets is AIDS. Some inmates get it from being raped. Even if one has no compassion for prison inmates, one should think about what happens when the victimized con who has contracted AIDS in prison turns into an ex-con on the streets.

Email your feedback on this article to editor@impactpress.com.

Make an IMPACT

Other MindPower columns by Patrick Scott Barnes: