Just Detention: Rape is Not Part of a Prison Term

Detainees of the prison system should not have to fear for their safety on any level, and rape of inmates is a crime recognized internationally as a form of torture. It is the easy joke, but the reality is unacceptable, whether sexual assault is perpetrated by corrections officers or other inmates and whether victims are men or women or transgender (you can well imagine the particular he’ll faced by transgender individuals in the corrections system. A fascinating art installation regarding this issue can be seen in Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary–find out more below the jump).

Just Detention International (JDI) is a health and human rights organization seeking to end sexual abuse in all forms of detention. There is a systemic failure in the justice systems in many nations that fails to protect the safety of prisoners, and sexual assault is often accompanied with severe brutality and beatings, intimidation, psychological harm, and the proliferation of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. The US has one of the worst systems, and we have simply ignored the issue.

As part of their mission, “JDI is concerned about the safety and well-being of all detainees, including those held in adult prisons and jails, juvenile facilities, immigration detention centers, and police lock-ups, whether run by government agencies or by private corporations on behalf of the government.

JDI has three core goals for its work: to ensure government accountability for prisoner rape; to transform ill-informed public attitudes about sexual violence in detention; and to promote access to resources for those who have survived this form of abuse.

Hundreds of thousands of children and adults are sexually violated each year in US prisons, jails, and detention centers. In 80% of juvenile cases that are reported, the assault is committed by one or more people on staff. Don’t let this continue. Learn the basics, and raise your voice.

EASTERN STATE PENITENTIARY PRISON ART: Start with the 1969 Stonewall Riots, add in a massive penitentiary, transgender prisoners, state-of-the-art video installations, and gut-wrenching monologues, and you end up with Beware the Lily Law, a media installation at historic Eastern State Penitentiary by Michelle Handelman. In an actual prison cell of the maximum security facility, the issues faced by transgender prisoners are explored as three video projections of inmates sharing their stories play on the cement walls. Imprisoned as a result of Stonewall, these incarcerated individuals tended to get thrown into “protective” or “administrative” custody for their own protection (a transwoman in a male prison, or transman in a women’s facility, face a particular brand of hell, even today), so they were essentially in solitary confinement. The video projections of this art piece exploring justice are of people telling their stories while transforming their gender expression, and all are based on real men and women jailed in 1969. It is a powerful journey into oppression, and part of an elaborate art program at Philadelphia’s Eastern State through the 2011 visitor’s season.

One response to this post.

  1. Amnesty has documented cases where law enforcement officials have arbitrarily arrested individuals on the basis of allegations about sexual orientation rumors of sexual behavior or objection to gender presentation with few if any consequences for or other ill-treatment……People detained or imprisoned solely because of their homosexuality including those individuals prosecuted for having sex in circumstances which would not be criminal for heterosexuals or for their gender identity are considered to be ……Amnesty International calls for the decriminalization of homosexuality where such legislation remains including a review of all legislation which could result in the discrimination prosecution and punishment of people solely for their sexual orientation or gender identity……This includes .. Many of those who speak up for their rights are persecuted with impunity.


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