By Shelly Stow . . . Closing our eyes to prisoner abuse must stop.
Prisons are not supposed to be fun or pleasant. They are designed for restrictions and punishment intended to bring about rehabilitation.
They are not intended to facilitate, even encourage, vigilante activities against those whom other prisoners choose to mistreat.
Men in prison for convictions involving sexual offenses are often considered “fair game” for mistreatment and violence, and all too often prison personnel appear to turn a blind eye to this.
Speculation is already dominating the reports of Ben McCormick’s conviction for child pornography and what will await him if he ends up behind bars. The irony in the situation is that, while a reporter for A Current Affair, McCormick was instrumental in exposing sit-com star Robert Hughes and for Hughes’ subsequent trial, conviction, and incarceration for child sexual abuse.
Reports of the mistreatment visited upon Hughes are only exceeded by the speculation that the same fate or worse awaits McCormick if he is imprisoned. Reporters euphemistically speak of the “prison welcome” given to Hughes, a welcome in which inmates hurled at him their own feces and urine that they had saved up in milk cartons the first time he entered the prison yard.
Were there guards and other prison personnel who knew the inmates were hoarding their bodily wastes for this purpose? No one is even asking the question. And while this treatment is mild compared to the sexual violence, rapes, and murders that those convicted of sexual crimes fall victim to behind bars, no one is asking those questions either.
There are no statistics. No one knows how many instances of sexual violence prisoners are subjected to. It is not a horror that is visited only upon those convicted of sexual crimes, but they are without a doubt singled out especially for such treatment.
And what of beatings, of maimings, of murders? Prison is a violent place. People in prison are violent people. These things are bound to happen. As far as those who commit sexual crimes receiving more than their “fair share” of such treatment, it is “jail-house justice.” Even other criminals won’t “tolerate” those who sexually abuse children. It’s bound to happen.
But it should not happen because those who should and could prevent it are closing their eyes and tacitly enabling it to happen.
Those who harm others should be punished. The punishment should not put them in positions where others who are also being punished feel free to turn a prison sentence into a sentence of torture or a sentence of death. Those who do that are proving their criminality yet again.
And also earning the title of criminals are the prison officials who shut their eyes. Their refusal to see does not excuse them from their culpability. We must demand that they be held accountable.
Source: With Justice for All