It's a terrible terrible thing which must somehow be stopped - I found the following very interesting so I decided to share it with you.
The "Hype" of Male Prison Rape
by Bruce Banter
"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, Farmer v. Brennan
The idea of being raped while in prison is something that is often sensationalized in entertainment media, although the facts and realities behind it are far more obscure. Unwanted pregnancy, HIV contraction and prisoner recidivism are some of the results of prison rape. Higher prisoner recidivism specifically in men because the psychological effects often prevent these people from integrating back in to the community. Some commit suicide even if the men are already homosexual before entering. Women have been able to rejoin society much more effectively.
We should all have a ZERO TOLERANCE policy on rape even for prisoners (on a personal note, I will admit that when it comes to serial rapist I almost do not care what happens to them in prison). I believe prison should re-habilitate people (although they may never have been "habilitated" in this country). Prisoners should have rights, and other prisoners should not be mediating justice on fellow prisoners. I doubt this is what we mean when we think justice. In the words of Linda Bruntmyer, whose son hung himself at the age of 17 to escape repeated sexual assault in an adult prison. "Rape should not be considered a part of the punishment. Rape is always a crime."
For almost 30 years it has been believed that most rapist get raped in jail. This became general public knowledge after the 1977 prison cult film "Short Eyes" was released to a Curtis Mayfield soundtrack. In the film a white middle-class man convicted of child molestation, (which in the prison world has always been considered the lowest possible crime imaginable) is totally abused sexually. Prior to this most people never paid any attention to prison misconduct. Further illustration that, entertainment media - in this case one movie - can reach many and change what we know and think. Fast-forward to today, and it seems that we have so many experts but not much if anything has changed in prison.
Hopefully the number of prison rapes will now be decreasing due to a new law recently signed by President George W. Bush. The Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 was signed into law on September 4th, marking the first time the U.S. government has ever passed a law to deal with sexual assault behind bars. As a law this legal attempt to prevent rape has some teeth. I was skeptical that this bill would ever become a law (although the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate voted by unanimous consent to approve the bill,) because in my observations I notice that the most needed bills always get held up in legislation and don't become laws. This new Law calls for the gathering of national statistics about the problem; the development of guidelines for states about how to address prisoner rape; the creation of a review panel to hold annual hearings; and the provision of grants to states to combat the problem. It lacks some needed accountability by private and state run prison officials but it's finally a start.
I am very interested in the statistics that are compiled from this new law. These statistics will separate male and female rape in a very accurate way. Currently experts say 11-13% of all male prisoners experience rape, which may be a conservative estimate, and is a far cry from the suggested 50% that movies and other fiction would have us believe.
The truth is that male rape as we "perceive it" is not as prevalent as we believe it is. The culture at Federal, state, county and local prisons are all very different and what an inmate experiences upon incarceration primarily depends on where they are housed at and what they are in for. It's not everywhere like in movies. There are so many willing and openly gay men in prison that inmates don't have to rape to have sex with them. In some wings of prisons you would not realize that you are in a male prison unless told. These males look and try to act just like women. Phat butts, wigs, elaborate braids, sexy lingerie, and some have had the hormone shots giving them little breast.
In most cases a prisoner who wants homosexual sex would rather go there for his bidding. Also realize that there are homosexual men in prison who prefer to be givers not receivers (although they may occasionally receive). These guys will cut you quick if you try to violate them with rape. They are still men and can diss out some vicious beatings. Homosexual no longer equates with being a punk. Don't believe the hype, there are a growing number of homo thugs who can fight as well as any heterosexual thugs.
Prison rape has less to do with sexuality than we think, however passive openly gay men are likely to be raped. Young males are also likely to be violated but the bulk of the victims are those with mental disorders a category which overlaps both. American jails and prisons house more mentally ill people than all of the nations psychiatric hospitals combined. Unfortunately we taxpayers have allowed the Prison Industrial complex to become such a profitable business at our own expense. So the mentally ill will continue to be housed at the wrong facilities eventually to be victimized.
I would never downplay rape but when it comes to male prisoners the stories are overdone and stem from a lot of Hollywood hype. Street folk lore is also a big source in the Black community with the same story being re-told many times and re-invented more elaborately every three times told. Sometimes rumors are created out of pure malice or natural tendencies of those who love to gossip about what they couldn't possibly confirm. Either way the 411 on who got raped from urban communities is harder to determine than what average people say.
I know a very small, frail dude who I went to high school with who many of my former classmates whispered was raped primarily because of his diminutive size but two correctional officers I know who worked at the jail dispute that and wondered where the rumor came from. Out of twenty people I know personally who have been to prison, two of them have been violated sexually while serving time, both of them were young guys but not what I consider men. Neither talks about it, but how I know is almost factual.
Sometimes music can propel the excesses of rape. As a random example in hip-hop let's take notables who have been or allege to have been in jail. Both 50 Cent and Tony Yayo rap about jail experiences in mix-tapes. In reality, they both served time at a non-violent shock incarceration facility. A place like this is not a haven for rape. However mainstream artist often rap about things they never witnessed or experienced. If either were to make a rap about witnessing jail rape people would take it as accurate and prevalent. However the primary messenger of the horrific sensation of prison rape is not music but American movies.
HBO had the very popular and successful series "OZ" whereby almost every episode we witnessed a character getting forcibly "backdoored". Almost all of the films out of Hollywood that have a prison theme of any kind depict male rape as an expected and everyday occurrence. It's often not spoken about but Hollywood in particular has mastered the technique of presenting very strong homoerotic visuals in the name of entertainment. The horrible reality of prison rape is rarely depicted accurately. According to the non-profit organization Stop Prisoner Rape. Congress found interracial sexual assaults are frequent, which of course inflames jail house tensions as well as behavior outside, but unless you been in the belly of the beast you would not think this true.
Ironically the stories of female prison rape are downplayed and not the talk on peoples lips because there is an underbelly of society that has managed to convince the majority of us, that it is not as important or common. The truth is that prison rape of females is more common than the rape of males. It usually comes in the form of other prisoners as well as male & female guards. Male prisoners usually have to deal only with other inmates.
These rapes are having a devastating effect on communities of color. It is the bodies of Latino and Black males that constitute the majority of the prison population. Many of us know people who have been in prison but very few of us can honestly say that we have discussed prison life with them. We might ask if they saw a rape but we have know idea of what their daily life was like. The average person is conditioned to be more interested in hearing the controversial instead of having a conversation. Prison stories are fascinating to Americans because of the steady diet of allowable sex and violence we grow up on in the form of entertainment. The prison rape story is usually so "ova the top" that it begs repeating and thus grows on our impression. Just hearing the detailing horror of approximately two prison stories can be quite shocking, outrageous and unforgettable. We should be equally outraged that boys are housed with men since it is a fact that young first time offenders are at increased risk for rape. We need to understand how this effect us all because prison rape endangers the public safety because brutalized inmates are more likely to commit crimes after they get out and return to our communities.
Rumor has it that a man can be brought for 5 bucks, and treated like a piece of candy by prison villains. He can be forced to toss another man's salad with melted chocolate or jelly (yuck). We can get more vivid but why? It's time to move past the sensationalism of Hollywood prison rape and the street folklore. It's time the government do something about it. It's time to look at how often this is actually happening, pinpoint who it is that is actually being assaulted, and deal with it. That is most important because while the hype focuses on how the rape happened it often fails to mention its recidivist effect is likely to show up at a hood near you.- Nuff said
Released: February 16th, 2004
They say NOBODY is perfect so just call me NOBODY