Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Eric Holder: Stopping Prison Rape Is Too Expensive

Back in 2003, the Prison Rape Elimination Act was signed into law by President George W. Bush. In 2010, the law remains largely unenforced. According to Eric Holder, Attorney General of the United States the law must not "impose substantial additional costs compared to the costs presently expended by federal, state and local prison authorities." In simple language, preventing prisoners from being raped in prison is just too expensive.

As underreported a crime as prison rape is, it is still a serious problem. The Associated Press reports as follows. "The government reported Thursday that 4.4 percent of inmates in prison and 3.1 percent of inmates in jail report being victimized sexually by another inmate or staff member.Those percentages translate to the sexual victimization of 88,500 inmates behind bars nationwide in the previous 12 months, according to a study by the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics in 2008–2009."

It is hard to fathom the dismissive calculations of Eric Holder and many who silently agree with him that keeping prisoners safe from rape is "too expensive", that simple measures such as separating violent and predatory inmates from vulnerable individuals is not feasible.There are undoubtedly hidden costs to turning a blind eye to sexual assaults in prison. Most victims of sexual assault in prison will return to society. What will the costs be in mental and physical health? How many will return to prison because of psychological problems that stem from having been brutalised in prison?

The blame for the neglect of our nation's prisoners goes across the political spectrum. From liberals who can not see prisoners as being capable of oppressing others to conservatives who cavalierly dismiss the abuse meted out to prisoners, It is important to bear in mind that people are sent to prison as punishment rather than for punishment. The dull austerity, the curtailment of personal freedom and the separation from loved ones are all aspects of the prison experience that are meant to be a deterrent. Rape is not part of the sentence.For Eric Holder to publicly declare that preventing rape in prison is "too expensive" is disgraceful and unacceptable. It is a human rights violation that should be condemned by international human rights groups. There is a price for rape prevention, and an even greater price for ignoring it. Which bill will America pay?

*************************************************************One of the videos tells the story about a 17 year old boy who ended up in prison for misdemenor arson. After repeated rapes and repeated denials of protective custody, he committed suicide. His is one of many faces on this terrible problem.

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