Prison Rape

Excellent post by Liliana Segura:

In 1994 in the case Farmer v. Brennan, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a prison official’s “deliberate indifference” to the risk that a trans woman prisoner named Dee Farmer would be raped when placed within the general population of a men’s federal prison violated her Eighth Amendment rights. Yet, “deliberate indifference” remains a good phrase to define the broader attitude towards prisoners who are raped behind bars; among them, transgender prisoners, gay prisoners, young prisoners, prisoners who are locked up for the first time, and prisoners who are mentally ill are often the most targeted for sexual assault by guards and other prisoners alike, their bodies treated as a commodity in the prison power economy. If survivors of sexual assault are routinely silenced in the outside world, those who are assaulted behind prison walls are even more invisible. They are also the least likely to receive sympathy or help from people on the outside.

The rights of convicted felons are never going to be the most popular cause in the world, but it should be seen that in addition to being horrible on its own terms this kind of thing totally undermines the criminal justice system’s ability to mete out punishment in a considered way. The idea is that criminals should be punished in some kind of proportion to the severity of their crimes. Allowing violence to run amok in prisons does the reverse — ensuring that members of organized gangs get off lighter than less dangerous felons.