New York Offers Rape Crisis Line in Prison
I'm enclosing a pamphlet recently circulated here titled "Help for Victims of Sexual Abuse in Prison." The official policies in New York are actually pretty good and some staff are supportive. Sing Sing has openly gay and lesbian corrections officers (COs), a high percentage of young and/or female officers, and at least one transgender officer. Far from ideal, but good enough to suggest there's hope for the rest of the country and struggles in this area will be successful!
Please note the #77 speed dial feature described in the pamphlet [a speed dial to the Rape Crisis Program that does not need to be on the approved telephone list and calls are not monitored.] This is an innovative idea that could well be advocated elsewhere. I've heard one positive comment from a user, and the speed dial does work well on a technical level. But why not a #66 to report beat downs, or #55 for corruption, or #1 to report injustice or ask for legal help?
MIM(Prisons) responds: We echo this prisoner's call for a hotline to report other abuses within prisons. Any opportunity for prisoners to report abuse outside of the prison structure is a welcome addition to the criminal injustice system that denies prisoners a voice to speak out against abuse. But we do not yet have any evidence that prisoners speed dialing a rape crisis program will result in any help or attention to the problem beyond supportive counseling after the attack happens. If this is just offering the prisoner an anonymous opportunity to talk after a rape, the problem will continue. In a system that has demonstrated its ability to dismiss or sweep under the rug any complaints or accusations by prisoners, we doubt this new hotline will be any different.
As for the existence of gay, lesbian and transgender COs, we see this the same as having New Afrikan COs. Those who have joined the criminal injustice system will be forced to conform to the rules or they will be out of a job. And so we can now expect to see these new COs abusing prisoners just like their straight counterparts. There are many male COs who do not identify as gay, but who are part of the rape of male prisoners. In all situations, the COs are in a position of power in a system that is set up to denigrate and abuse the men and women it holds. Rather than fight for COs of a different sexual orientation, gender identity, or nationality we need to fight for an end to a system of brutality that condones rape.