All Articles Tagged "rehabilitation"
According to an article in Salon, “Hundreds of teen-agers are raped or sexually assaulted during their stays in the country’s juvenile detention facilities, and many of them are victimized repeatedly.”
This insight comes by way of a recent United States Justice Department survey, which involved over 8,000 adjudicated youth in both group homes and in secure juvenile detention facilities all across the country. According to the survey’s findings, 1,720 teens (or an estimated 9.5 percent) reported being sexually assaulted by either another youth or facility staff member within the past 12 months. Most shocking, the highest rate of reported incidences occurred at the Paulding Regional Youth Detention Center in Georgia and the Circleville Juvenile Correctional Facility in Ohio, where one in three teens reported sexual abuse by the hands of staff members. Among the other findings of the report, it was revealed that while male youth were more likely than female youth to report sexual victimization with facility staff, female youth were more likely to report forced sexual activity with another adjudicated youth. Also, white youth reported sexual victimization at the hands of another youth at a rate higher than their black and Hispanic counterparts. However, black youth reported a higher rate of sexual victimization by facility staff than white youth or Hispanic youth.
This report comes on the heels of another article I read in Gawker about a recent lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of prisoners at the East Mississippi Correctional Facility, who allege poor and dangerous living conditions, including prisoners living under the constant threat of sexual assault. The article also includes a handwritten letter from a victim of prison rape, who describes in great detail being sexually assaulted by several gang members that held him captive for hours. His attack resulted in severe facial and rectum injuries. Writes the unidentified inmate, who came to prison by way of a parole violation for shoplifting:
“All I could do was cry because I knew that one false move and I knew this man would take my life. After being the victim of rape by another man, I am suffering still from anxiety, depression and stress issues because of this attack. …
…Due to this tragic incident that happened to me all I want to do is speak out to others that are suffering from what I went through on Feb 23rd 2013 and let them know it’s okay to speak out and tell someone because no one should be violated of their sexual personal space.”
I agree that no one should be violated, even a convicted prisoner. And stories like this are the reason why I do not find anything remotely humorous about prison rape. According to the group, Just Detention International, a health and human rights organization that seeks to end sexual abuse within the prison system, more than 200,000 adults and youth are raped behind bars each year – and that is just those who report it. Matter of fact, you should probably go over to the website, Stop Prison Rape, and check out the vast collection of survivor stories from other current and former inmates who have been sexually assaulted. Be warned, it is not the funny anecdotal stories about Bubba, the booty-snatching cellmate folks are used to telling in jest. But then again, real life tales of rape never are.
The purpose of prison is supposed to be rehabilitation, however, we all know that it stopped being that long ago – if it ever was. Most folks want those who are guilty of crimes to pay their debt to society and the people for whom they have wronged. And they don’t care how. However, sexual assault should never be viewed as a punishment. It is a crime. It’s a violent crime. And even more specifically, it is a violent crime, which people do go to jail for a very long time for. If we condone or even make light of these crimes, how can we ever claim the moral high ground?
By Kariba Williams
I was only five when I realized that my mother had a drug habit. She would stay in the kitchen for hours at a time with some of her “friends.” She would only come out when she needed to prevent me from venturing into the kitchen or when it was time for her to go to the “store” to feed her habit. By the time I turned six, my first brother was born, however, my mother continued her drug use and wound having two additional children in a span of three years. My mother was not a “typical” user. She went on heavy binges. She didn’t use every day, but when she did use, she would be hard to reach for days at a time. Because of this, my siblings became my responsibility at a young age. I ensured that they were fed and tried to show them the right things to do, despite my own lack of guidance. I was a good girl for the most part and my mother knew it. As her disappearing acts caught the attention of neighbors, authorities were called in and my siblings and I were removed. This became the norm. She would get us back, we would be removed again, and she would somehow get us back once more.
When she got us back for a final time, she still wasn’t through with her addiction. She knew how to straighten up long enough for the court to believe she was rehabilitated. My mother loved us very much, but her inner demons ran rampant. She had minimal strength in fighting her addiction and that made me an adult before my time. I made hard decisions and became the most consistent thing in the lives of my siblings. I was their guardian. I felt an incredible need to protect them. The feeling was so strong that I couldn’t even fathom the idea of going to college outside of the city. If I left, who would protect them? My life was about them and never about me. I was more selfless than selfish for the first half of my life.
One night, my mom went to the “store” and didn’t come back for two days. I was 21 years old, had a job and was enrolled in school full time. And at that point, I was fed up. I was tired of playing mommy. My siblings were teenagers and one of them was becoming rebellious: arrests, stabbings, juvenile detention, breaking curfew, and possible pregnancies. Things were beyond the usual meetings with the guidance counselor. Things just became too much for me, and I finally realized how overwhelmed I was. For the first time, I knew it was time to pull myself together for me. When my mother came back from that two-day binge, I moved in with a relative and started doing my own thing. From there, I got my own place a year later.