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Reader: Prison rape does occur in the Colorado system whether officials want to admit it or not

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Alan Prendergast's post about prison rape, which one sheriff compared to UFOs and other cultural delusions, sparked a response from a reader identifying himself as a veteran correctional officer.

He says such incidents are no fantasy.

Thomaspaine2nd writes:

I can tell you, from experience (20+ years working as a correctional officer) that prison rape does occur in the Colorado Department of Corrections. Anyone who tells you it doesn't, or that it is a rare occurrence is lying to you. I've seen it, and so have many, many others. There are two main reasons that it is not reported. First, you have to understand PREA (the Prison Rape Elimination Act) which does state that ANY sexual act between inmates is considered rape. CDOC emphatically states that there is no such thing as "consensual" sex between inmates because, simply put, sex is not allowed between inmates. Period. Because of this, most staff, and most inmates will not report any sexual act (whether consensual or not) between inmates. Second, and most importantly, staff are discouraged from reporting it. Not officially of course, but there is a certain amount of stigmatization placed upon staff who do report it. They are laughed at in roll call when their reports are read, they are laughed at by disciplinary officers when their reports are reviewed, they are laughed at by their supervisors when they submit their reports, and to top it off, the administration will do nothing about these reports unless the inmate victim is injured in the rape AND if the inmate victim seeks medical attention. Prison rapes are a fact of life in prison. Some are violent assaults, and some are forced through intimidation.

It always amazes me that people are so naive about what goes on inside a prison, not only between inmates, but also between staff and inmates and admin and line staff. Of the 20+ years I spent in my chosen career, I spent 18 of those years with the Colorado Department of Corrections, working both at the Denver Reception and Diagnostic Center (I was there when it opened) and at the Limon Correctional Facility (one of the most corrupt, if not THE most corrupt facilities in all of CDOC). During my time with the CDOC I encountered more inmate on inmate and staff on inmate rapes than I can even count. I reported some of the things I witnessed and I was punished for reporting them. So I stopped. (My bad, yes I know, but my sense of self-preservation outweighed my need to protect anyone else). I did, however, continue to document everything I witnessed, and I kept copies of every memo that was given to me (such as the LCF housing memo instructing inmates to use old rags rather than toilet paper, and to turn the rags in when they were done with them). Suffice to say, I do know what I am talking about. Rape does occur in prisons (at least CDOC prisons), as does prostitution, graft, gambling, theft, protection rackets, assault, murder, extortion, and virtually any crime that happens on the street also happens in prison (again, at least in CDOC prisons and these crimes are not always inmate on inmate). When will people wake up and smell the coffee?

For more memorable takes, visit our Comment of the Day archive.


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10 comments
Doobie458
Doobie458

According to a study published by the United States Department of Justice last year, the Colorado Department of Corrections ranks near the bottom in Prison Rape Elimination Act  (PREA) compliance.  Of 49 institutions studied across the United States, the Colorado Department of Corrections (CO DOC) ranked 47th in terms of non-compliance.  The entire report is available at:  http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/progr...

Nil_Darps
Nil_Darps

http://www.texasobserver.org/a...

Justice Justice of Texas wrotein 1999:

“Texas prison inmates continueto live in fear – a fear that is incomprehensible to most of the state’s freeworld citizens. More vulnerable inmates are raped, beaten, owned, and sold bymore powerful ones. Despite their pleas to prison officials, they are oftenrefused protection. Instead, they pay for protection, in money, services, orsex. Correctional officers continue to rely on the physical control ofexcessive force to enforce order. Those inmates locked away in administrativesegregation, especially those with mental illnesses, are subjected to extremedeprivations and daily psychological harm. Such practices and conditions cannotstand in our society, under our Constitution.”

Here is a quote from the Supreme Court?

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun, Farmer v. Brennan:

“The horrors experienced by many young inmates, particularly those who areconvicted of nonviolent offenses, border on the unimaginable. Prison rape notonly threatens the lives of those who fall prey to their aggressors, but it ispotentially devastating to the human spirit. Shame, depression, and ashattering loss of self-esteem accompany the perpetual terror the victimthereafter must endure.”

http://bjc.oxfordjournals.org/...

One theme that emerges clearly from the USliterature is the racially biased nature of sexual victimization.... Prison sexual aggression, thus, is a casestudy of interracial crime’.

More than 30 years after Daviscompleted his study, Human Rights Watch (2001) indicated that little hadchanged and that victims remained predominantly white.

In Struckman-Johnson and Struckman-Johnson’s (2000) study, the highest rate–11 per cent reporting having been raped at some stage during their time at thatinstitution–was found in a place where inmates were housed in barracks andthere was racial conflict.

Their data showed that 60 per cent of targets were white, while 74 per centof perpetrators were black. Institutions where the problem was less intensetended to be more racially homogeneous.

Reflecting more generally on this imbalance, Knowles (1999: 268) remarkedthat: ‘This racial inequality may be the largest in any violent crime committedin the United States.’As he saw it the question to be answered was: ‘What are the social forces thatdrive blacks to repeatedly and exclusively rape whites?’

Human Rights Watch published a report about this: “No Escape: Male Rape inUS Prisons”

http://www.hrw.org/legacy/repo...

“Inter-racial sexual abuse is common only to the extent that it involveswhite non-Hispanic prisoners being abused by African Americans or Hispanics. Incontrast, African American and Hispanic inmates are much less frequently abusedby members of other racial or ethnic groups; instead, sexual abuse tends tooccur only within these groups.

Past studies have documented the prevalence of black on white sexualaggression in prison. These findings are further confirmed by Human RightsWatch’s own research. Overall, our correspondence and interviews with white,black, and Hispanic inmates convince us that white inmates aredisproportionately targeted for abuse.”

http://www.utexas.edu/know/201...

In Texas prisons, violence andracism reignby Jorge Antonio Renaud

Published: Nov. 22

Jorge Antonio Renaud, a graduate student in the School of Social Work, spent 27 years in Texasprisons. This post is part of a Know series on the Texasprison system.

“Relieved of the certainty that random violence might result in deadlyretaliation, incoming gang bangers — overwhelmingly black and Hispanic —brought their street codes into prison: the drive-by mentality took hold, andit was visited against Anglos. These cons didn’t limit their violence toenemies — they adopted the attitude that any “white boy” was fair game, andthat he could and should be broken by continual, unexpected gang beatingsadministered regardless of whether he fought back, or whether he showed“heart.” The unwilling joined white supremacy gangs for protection, while thosemen weary of constant beatings became sex slaves and cash cows.

This aspect of Texas prisonsresults in thousands of men leaving the system with a predator mentality or araging racism buried so deep it might never be eradicated. Reducing barriers toreentry is one thing — understanding and relieving the trauma this unceasingviolence leaves on the thousands of Texans returning to our streets is another.”

Carl Toersbijns
Carl Toersbijns

@Thomaspaine2nd - Just make peace with yourself and keep telling the truth - God gives us choices and many of them border on right and wrong - don't go out of your way to tell the truth but never hide it - speak when appropriate, choose better friends who understand your compassion and goodness in heart. Don't let the culture overcome your values but don't give into the cruelty you know exists.. I thank you for your honesty and courage. Many you work with won't for their loyalty is to the code of silence - what is suspected will be confirmed as time unravels the truth.

Nil_Darps
Nil_Darps

http://solitarywatch.com/2011/...

 

THIS COMMENT ON ANOTHER STORY IS RELATED:

Solitary Confinement is a hot subject nationwide – the practice is underfire and there are recorded abuses under such practices. The problems arealmost always related to non-compliance to “written” policies and procedures,deviations from

POLICIES THAT INCLUDE BEHAVIORAL MODIFICATION METHODS NOT SANCTIONED ANDTACIT APPROVAL FOR VARIANCES NOT DOCUMENTED MAKING IT HARD FOR COURTS TOACCURATELY TRACK OPERATIONAL ISSUES NOT IN WRITING AND PROTECTED BY A CODE OFSILENCE.

THERE ARE DANGERS OF ABUSE, NEGLECT AND TORTURE AS OVERSIGHT IS LIMITED, NOTDOCUMENTED AND RANDOM IN NATURE.

THE CULTURE IS “US VERUS THEM” with both sides pulling no punches [no punintended] and escalation of mistreatment occurs first in passive aggressionelevating to physical contact and unnecessary cell extractions, strip searchesetc.

THE REASON THE COURTS CAN’T DETERMINE THE “EXTREME” PART IS THAT IT (EVIDENCE)DOESN’T EXSIST LIKE TORTURE DOESN’T EXIST.

THIS UNDERGROUND CULTURE WON’T REVEAL THEIR FLAWS IN A PUBLIC FORUM OR. AFFIDAVITSAND INCIDENT REPORTS ARE COACHED, THESE INCIDENT REPORTS ARE “CLEANED UP”

SPECIAL FOCUS IS ON THE FOIA REGULATIONS THAT ALLOW PUBLIC DISCOVERY ofpublic documents and items

THUS CERTAIN DOCUMENTS BECOME CLASSIFIED, VIDEOS ARE LOST OR TAMPERED WITHSTATEMENTS ARE PERFECTED to play off any signs of condoned unlawful behaviors.

This is why

THE CORRECTIONAL OFFICER IS SO EMPOWERED as THEY FEEL THEY ARE INVINCIBLEAND PROTECTED BY THE TOP

to avoid embarrassment of their administration incentral office.

Have you ever noticed when an investigation goes south, the warden is fired?This is the nail in the coffin for anyone else that talks. Normally the hitsare at the bottom but in cases where an outside agency finds flaws, the wardengets the ax to save face.

Administrators are taught from the beginning two things: internal controlsand external controls – internal controls (institutional culture and practices)are how the incident is handled, documented, released and revealed before itleaves the facility.

THIS INFORMATION IS CLEANED UP BEFORE THE PRESS RELEASE TO THE MEDIA whichrepresents the external control element of the event. Other external control(politics) is collected of external audits, investigations, media, legislatureand executive branch revelations and findings. If the justification is properlymade and timely in response, the top echelon remains unscathed and the bottomgets the heavy handed hammer of discipline.

The air of intimidation is on both sides. Officers and prisoners been pressuredto remain quiet and it works. Credibility is slurred as

GOOD OFFICERS ARE DISCREDITED IF THEY SPEAK OUT AGAINST THE SYSTEM.

The only way you will discover the “truth” is through a “mole” in the systemthat keeps a log of the events as they occurred.

NOTE: the code of silence protects both the guilty and the innocent… the “team”remains intact and the brotherhood remains intact protected by

SELECT UPPER MANAGEMENT WHO ENDORSE SUCH “EXTREME PRACTICES”  DEFEND THEM IN A PUBLIC FORUM.

ADMINISTRATORS GET PROMOTED FOR FOLLOWING THE PROGRAM and the practicecontinues to exist as the morality suffers and new rules are imposed with everysuccessive administrator and supervisor that works the SHU or SMU

BY SHARING AND BEING HONEST  aboutconditions inside the prisons I HAVE A “BURN NOTICE” THAT WILL FOREVER BURN MYNAME.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

Humans need humor, but all the people laughing (and committing malfeasance) to which the officer refers need to be let go -- Colorado cannot afford to employ one such person, much less the legions staffing our bloated prisons.  As for the Corrections Corporation of America and its ilk, all Colorado politicians and bureaucrats who condone their continued existence must be removed immediately.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

I agree and I appreciate your post.

I would send this privately, but there is no means:  please force your writing into a more conventional form (i.e. desist from the impulse to capitalize, clean up incomplete sentences, draw them up into paragraphs, and impose essay structure overall).  I do take it upon myself to correct people all the time (though I am far from perfect myself), but your writing and your subject are very important, and I feel strongly that your account would benefit greatly from a little more rigor.

Picasso
Picasso

Robert you are absolutely right. Unfortunately a really big part of the problem lies within society itself.Reading comments about crimes sometimes, I always see postings referring to "Bubba" in the shower or wishing daily rape on such and such.When someone is sent to prison, the punishment is privation of liberty. It isn't supposed to include rape and torture . Instead of being of time of reflexion and (hopefully) reform, it becomes a school of hate and fear.Most men/women entering prison today will be released at some point in the future. If not concerned by the well being of this population, be concerned with your own. Do you really want your kids or yourself to face someone who just got out of prison after years of daily rape?It is most likely that the jokes about not dropping the soap won't help you then...

Nil_Darps
Nil_Darps

@google-12d4470d9f4756e3914d57033c0e2f05:disqus  Since my computer is old it freezes often so I write on a word processor then post it. It  looks fine and then when I post it adds lines etc. Sorry I will buy a new one if the economy turns around.

In the this post I wanted to high light the capitalized portions of Carl's words. They are much more important than mine.

Again my apologies.

On prison rape read Human Rights Watch's report "No Escape".

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

I am afraid that you are right; the concomitants of our crabbed outlook and authoritarian laws is that our boast to be the "land of the free" (i.e. just assuming that the answer to the question is "yes") rings hollow, because we imprison more people than any other nation.  Our monstrous program of incarceration threatens to criminalize our entire society, and the dead weight of all our unjust, unreasoning laws would snuff it out were they somehow to be universally applied.

Picasso
Picasso

Well once again I have to agree. There are more options than just throw away the key. If a kid gets caught dealing a bit of pot, that's something that will follow him for the rest of his life with a felon label.With all respect intended, the land of the free cease to exist when its people, no matter who they are, in this case prisonners, are abused while under its supervision.To this, the citizen Landa will answer that those in prison shouldn't have commited crime. This is denying mistakes made on a constant basis and the apetite of politicians.In a justice system where componants are elected, they will obviously cater to their audiences in order to be re elected. At this point, the focus of judges, DA etc..will switch from their duties to their own personnal interests.Other will tell that abuse or rapes in prison can also be part of a punishment.  That may be though but certainly not to the ones inflicting abuse and rapes. In fact the ones who rape in prison are the same bullies who will continue when released.

Going further in the penalty system, we have condemned men on death row claiming to be innocent and begging for DNA tests to prove that innocence. Most are being denied while more and more of them are proven innocent by the same technique. One very clear reason goes back to elected officials who will deny tests to be conducted unless forced by a superior court.Justice has become the largest business in America and as with any business, once the greed gets into it, the product, in this case justice,  doesn't matter anymore...

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