Saturday, August 17, 2013

A Prea-Existing Condition

In 2003 Congress enacted the Prison Rape Elimination Act.  It's stated goal, which is rather obvious from the name, is to stop sexual assaults and harassment in all detention facilities.

A fine enough sentiment, to be sure.  I have no doubt that they had the purest intentions when they drafted this little fantasy.

It is however, in my view, nothing more than a fantasy.  Whenever you have that many people of the same gender confined together for long periods of time there is going to be sexual activity.  And when you have a large number of such people confined together, some of that sexual activity is going to be forced or coerced.

It's the "law of the jungle", after all.  The stronger ones will always prey on the weaker ones.  It happens in prison just like it happens out on the streets.

We are all trained to look for the signs of this event and when we discover that there is some sort of sexual abuse happening, we have a system in place to report it and punish the perpetrator.

We were under the impression that this was about the best we could do, under the circumstances.

After all, the only real way to completely eliminate this problem would be to confine every single one of them in a cell by themselves and never ever allow them any kind of physical contact with another person until the term of their confinement was completed.

That would work, in theory.

Of course probably 75% of them would leave prison completely insane from the isolation....

But that's not my problem.  We would make sure that they weren't raped while they were in there and that's the bottom line, right?

Oooh....  No pun intended there.

Well.... maybe just a small one.

Since jails and prisons all over the world are becoming inconveniently overcrowded, there's little or no chance of trying out my master plan any time in the future anyway.  The courts in California have decreed that they must release some ten thousand plus offenders out into the population to reduce their overcrowding problem.

It will be interesting to see what that does to the crime rate numbers in California and neighboring states in the next few months.

At any rate....
The law has been in effect, as I said, since 2003.
We all thought that we were doing our best to prevent this from happening and punish those who broke the law to the extent we were capable.

Nobody that I know of had ever looked at the federal guidelines which had been published on the matter.  That sort of thing is above my pay grade, anyway.  My job is more "nuts and bolts" down on the front lines.  Look for this, find that, fix it or respond to it and take care of the problem.

Well, it turns out that the state had been receiving federal grant money for the last ten years to support their little dream of completely eliminating sexual abuse in our prisons.  There was no auditing system in place so apparently we were taking the money and saying "Yes, we are doing everything  we can do.  No worries.  We got this." and going on our merry way, content we were doing a good job.

After ten years I guess someone in Washington DC decided "Let's see what we are getting for our money." So now they have decided to send auditors out to ensure that we are doing our very utmost to eliminate sexual assaults and harassment in our jails and prisons.

As such some people in our own capitol building have finally looked at their standards and said "Holy snap.  We have to start doing all of this stuff right now."  And they began issuing edicts left and right, willy-nilly without considering what the effects on the front line troops would be.

Like a Commanding General who has never actually been in a war, we are being led by people, many of whom have never even stepped foot inside of a prison. let alone ever actually worked in one.

Mistakes are being made, in my opinion.

Some of which are going to have some long-lasting repercussions down the road.

I will attempt to relate what some of those mistakes are in future posts.

Not sure if I'm back for the long run or not.
I've had the itch to write off and on for awhile now.
No promises, but we'll see.

Keep Cool.


  1. Hey there, Rev!

    Sounds like idiotic bureaucracy at its finest.

    What is the sound of one hand clapping? How do you throw away a garbage can? And how, how how how, do you pass a law to prevent people from raping each other, who are already locked away in a place for breaking the law and in a place that already has rules against the inmates raping each other?

    Put them inside another smaller prison inside that one like a Russian nesting doll of assault prevention?

    Of course, I gather, that this is mostly about making sure that the prisons themselves are doing more to prevent this thing. So this act is probably more akin to the sort of regulations where this building needs a ramp over here and Bobby needs certain test scores to play football over there.

    So then, what exactly do they expect YOU to do, that you're not already doing? Institute "No Soap Dropping Zones"? Fit all the prisoners with backwards chastity belts?

    In the end it just sounds like one politician said, "Hey we have a problem", and then another said, "Let's throw pointless legislation at it like we always do!" And then they went out and had a $5,000 lunch, feeling very proud of themselves.

    The end.

    1. Bryan- I wasn't even sure anybody was still around. Took me forever after my computer crashed to even remember my password.

      I don't really know what they expect us to do other than what we have been doing.

      But then, I don't think they know what they really want us to do either...
      Other than what we have been doing...
      But it just keeps getting stupider.

  2. Great to see you back. This just shows how "out of it" the people in power are. Anybody who knows a thing about sex knows you can't stop certain things from happening if people are put in close quarters together.

    1. Thanks Donna!
      Glad to see you are still around.
      And no... they just don't get it.
      I hate getting orders from paper pushers who have never worked inside and have no idea what it is like.

      I want to go to the legal department and grab the head guy by the scruff of the collar, drag him to the prison where I work and make him do at least one shift in my shoes. maybe it would shut them up for awhile.

  3. It's a thrill to have you back here, Rev, whatever the topic, with your sanity, sense of humour and general literary pizazz.

    You've been away so long that the last time I watched a prison movie, I failed to express the thought, "What would Rev say about this one?"

    But now you have prodded me into expressing that thought and ask you if you have seen "Hunger", about the hunger strike in the Maze Prison, Northern Ireland, back in the days when Maggie Thatcher was our Iron Lady.

    A film which will make you think you have it easy in the management of such things as dirty protests. But a damn good film too.

  4. Vincent- It's nice to be back, my friend. And nice to know that there are still nice folks watching. It has been a long time.

    I have not seen that movie, but I will add it to my list on your recommendation. I know we have it dead easy here in Raccoon City. This place is more and more like a kindergarten or a retirement home every day.

  5. Glad you're back. I was afraid one of the snapheads got you. Turns out your management went to the same school mine did.