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17 Responses

  1. Just Detention International
    Just Detention International April 21, 2010 at 11:28 am |

    Thanks Cara for this excellent post. Readers can take action to stop sexual assault behind bars by signing JDI’s petition urging the Attorney General to enact strong national standards aimed a tending prisoner rape; see the petition and more info here:

  2. Juniper Elliot
    Juniper Elliot April 21, 2010 at 2:57 pm |

    I can’t think of many current things more embarrassing to America than its prison system.


  3. frau sally benz
    frau sally benz April 21, 2010 at 5:25 pm | *

    I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed this piece, Liliana!

  4. Show-na
    Show-na April 21, 2010 at 5:55 pm |

    Really informative post. Another resource that was brought to my attention was a 2009 documentary called “Cruel and Unusual” outlining transgender women in the prison system. Like this post, it’s disturbing but very informative. I’m really glad Feministe provides a platform for important discussions like this.

  5. Holy!
    Holy! April 21, 2010 at 7:23 pm |

    Prison rape is horrible and routine fact of prison life. It’s not limited to transgender persons either. Young men are the most likely to be raped in prison, especially juveniles. Sadly enough, prison rape has become normalized.

  6. Wednesday
    Wednesday April 21, 2010 at 9:49 pm |

    Our prison system makes me so angry.

    Thanks for a well-written, informative post, Liliana. I had no idea how huge a problem prison rape was, and it never occurred to me that it would be a risk for immigrants in detention.

  7. Spilt Milk
    Spilt Milk April 21, 2010 at 10:12 pm |

    Thank you for this Liliana. “Jokes” about prison rape abound in popular culture – there’s probably one in every second Law and Order episode. It makes me sick, frankly. I wonder how many people who think that being brutalised in this way really is part of the sentence have ever considered what that says about their attitudes to sexual assault in general. To think rape could ever be justified, or that someone’s right to be safe from it could be taken away, is a horrible position to come from.

  8. lupinella
    lupinella April 21, 2010 at 11:28 pm |

    I have lost several possible friends due to my complete lack of humour on this topic.[I work in entertainment & deal with comedians every day.]
    I so desperately wish people could understand that there is no ‘funny’ side of rape.
    Thank you for an important post. I wish I could have read it all the way through, but massive trigger for me. Very grateful to you for writing about such an prevalent, disturbing topic.

  9. deangv
    deangv April 22, 2010 at 9:10 am |

    Did Donaldson really contract HIV as a result of a rape in 1968 as the above blog-post suggests? HIV was not prevalent in the US until the early 1980s. Donaldson’s web page at Just Detention mentions a conviction in 1980 of “assault with attempt to commit murder” which may have been the time at which he contracted HIV. I recognize that the underlying issues are important, and I may be being pedantic, but the above chronology is something that jumps out at me.

  10. Lisa
    Lisa April 22, 2010 at 1:08 pm |

    Thank you, Liliana. We had an IM group chat conversation at work in which someone asked, “What do people worry most about in the shower?” and someone I get along with quite well said, “Dropping the soap! Haha.” When I told him, privately, that I don’t want to read that shit, he feigned total ignorance and said I was the one making the upsetting leaps in logic from “don’t drop the soap” to “prison rape.”

    I’m forwarding this post to him.

  11. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 22, 2010 at 11:52 pm |

    A wonderful post—thank you. I studied prison law while in law school and the statistics we encountered were horrifying. Almost equally awful is the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence in this area. The “deliberate indifference” standard is nearly impossible for prisoners to meet; only in the most nightmarish of cases do prisoners stand any chance of winning in a civil suit against a correctional officer.

  12. Cristina
    Cristina April 23, 2010 at 4:04 pm |

    It is great that you posted this article. this issue needs to get more exposure.
    People’s indifference (or far worse) about this issue is really upsetting. But most people will take it back and think better about it if you make it a point to not remain silent when someone makes jokes about it or wishes someone gets raped in prison.
    (It helps to mantion that people who have committed violent crimes are usually the rapists in prison and not the other way around).
    Human Rights Watch did an excellent report about this in 2001. It’s in their website.

  13. Felicity
    Felicity April 24, 2010 at 12:09 am |

    Here’s a link for the HRW report Cristina mentioned above: No Escape: Male Rape in US Prisons.

  14. Penny Sautereau-Fife
    Penny Sautereau-Fife April 24, 2010 at 4:12 am |

    – My own story of surviving prison rape as an intersexed/trans woman. In Juvey no less. Trigger warning, obviously. Thank you for writing this piece drawing light to experiences like mine.

  15. nofear
    nofear April 25, 2010 at 9:29 pm |

    Lets abolish the Prison System and the Prison Industrial Complex. That’s my solution.

    On a side note, but still concerning the discussion of prison and more specifically, prison rape, I am a bit surprised by the adoration of Lady Gaga and her Telephone music video (which was featured on this blog).

    The reason being, is in the beginning of the video, it shows her being in jail, sauntering down the aisle between two male guard escorts, and then forcibly stripped. Umm….forcible strip searches are not entertaining, and considering the prevalence of rape and abuse in prison, I don’t think this sort of imagery is entertaining or “radical” or particularly feminist (as Lady Gaga self-identifies).

    I am not advocating censorship, nor am I a particularly pc person, but I think it is important to look at issues, not as solitary problems on their own island, but as part of a larger interconnected and systematic problem. Feminism has often acknowledged this and the importance of culture in shaping policy and institutions.

    The Prison Industrial should be no exception.

  16. Bethany
    Bethany May 1, 2010 at 4:12 pm |

    It is horrifying to think that our justice system allows such awful practices. This piece is very informative and I am glad that someone is willing to put the information out in the open where it so badly needs to be. This just goes to show that America is sadly very far from being “the land of the free.”

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