Prison Rape Elimination Act: Does more harm than good

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[Gender] [ULK Issue 54]
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Prison Rape Elimination Act: Does more harm than good

The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) was created to help prevent sexual assault and sexual harassment inside U.$. prisons and to hold fully accountable those found guilty of sexual misconduct. But is this really the case? I beg to differ with those who fully support PREA.

As a transgender woman, I am victimized daily in one way or another at the hands of my fellow prisoners and staff. I should feel free to report sexual assault/sexual harassment, but the fact is, I'm afraid to or at least reluctant to do so. The pigs in authority here in this particular gulag have decided to create a stipulation that prevents me from coming out of my cell without being video/audio recorded via hand-held camcorder. I am being told that it is for my safety and that of others. I say bullshit. This is retaliation at its finest, subtle and cloaked.

I am at the fascists' mercy for shower, yard, law library and anything else out of my cell. If my captors decide they don't feel like going through the motions with the camera (which is often) they simply have to claim that the camcorder is unavailable and/or out of service for the time being. Thus my right to shower, yard, law library, etc., is more often than not violated. I've pointed out numerous times that there are video cameras in every area of the prison, and there isn't a spot in this place that I can go that is beyond the view of a camera, but the pigs say that audio is needed for my claims of sexual harassment. When I point out that a majority of my sexual harassment allegations occurred when I was inside my cell, they have nothing more to say, as I've tripped them up in their own game.

It's simple. Things like this are done to discourage anyone from reporting any type of PREA violation whether it happened or not. Fear of retaliation alone is a violation of PREA standards. I wonder just how many others are experiencing this type of issue and what as a whole, we can do about it. Any suggestions, comrades?


MIM(Prisons) responds: Gender oppression is one of many forms of abuse faced by prisoners in the Amerikan criminal injustice system. While the PREA laws appear on the surface to take this problem seriously, we have seen that in practice PREA is more about image than action. And this is not the first report we have received about manipulation of the PREA laws to actually harm those who are experiencing the sexual harassment. We have written previously about PREA and the problems of sexual assault in prisons. Our overall conclusion is that we can not rely on the oppressors to enact policies that will stop oppression. Instead we look to the example of groups like Men Against Sexism, an organization in Washington prisons in the 1970s, to defend against sexual assault and change the culture of what was acceptable among prisoners. Organized action by the oppressed at a group level is necessary to overthrow patriarchy.

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