February 12, 2007
EZRA KLEIN ON PRISON RAPE:
I understand why this is a politically tough issue: There's no political upside to helping criminals, and the prison guard's unions are terrifically powerful on the state level. But politically tough as it may be to address, it's morally abhorrent to ignore. And we have to remember: Every single time we sentence a suspect to jail time, we are tacitly consenting not merely to his imprisonment, but to his savage sexual assault, with all the physical and psychological damage it will bring.
And read this earlier post of his, too:
We've decided to tacitly accept rape in our prisons because we believe deeply and firmly in the guilt of all who enter -- this is just further punishment. Better yet, we're not the executors -- that such barbarism occurs behind bars is further confirmation that those we incarcerate are monsters. The assaults make us feel better, they vindicate our sentencing. And we can countenance them because we never face their horrors.
I've written about this topic in the past, and I'm glad it's getting more attention. And I highly recommend this post on "the rape penalty" by Glen Whitman, who asks: "If the death penalty is a problem, then isn't prison rape an even bigger problem?"