RSS
Tackling prison rape
A federal study details widespread rape in U.S. prisons. Do we care enough to solve the problem?
A

merica's attitude toward prison rape is “frankly inhuman,” said Eli Lehrer in National Review. A new federal study found that 60,500 people were raped in U.S. prisons and jails in 2007. Yet nobody wants to talk about this huge social problem—except sitcom writers and “late-night comedians.” Prison rape isn’t funny—detainees are human beings, with basic rights, no matter what “awful things” they did.

Sixty thousand is a "despicably high number," said The Denver Post in an editorial, and we need to reduce it. The fruit of five years of study by the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission, the new federal report offers some good suggestions for slashing the incidence of prison rape, but we also need a “fundamental shift in attitudes” in the criminal justice system.

Prison officials and guards aren’t the only ones who need a shift in attitude, said Rand Simberg in Transterrestial Musings. “I’m skeptical that the moral will exists among our corrupt bureaucrats and legislators” to eliminate prison rape. Just look at California, where the “powerful prison-guard union” has recently shown its control over the legislature.

It’s in our self-interest to eliminate prison rape, said The Washington Post in an editorial. Some 95 percent of the 2.5 million people incarcerated will be back in society within 20 years. We don’t want them struggling with the “lasting, traumatic effects” of this “ultimate form of pain and humiliation” while they’re also struggling to stay on the straight and narrow.

EDITORS' PICKS

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week