Just a word now and then about working in a prison and for the Department Of Corrections. Plus a good bit of ranting here and there.
Saturday, August 17, 2013
A Prea-Existing Condition
In 2003 Congress enacted the Prison Rape Elimination Act. It's stated goal, which is rather obvious from the name, is to stop sexual assaults and harassment in all detention facilities.
A fine enough sentiment, to be sure. I have no doubt that they had the purest intentions when they drafted this little fantasy.
It is however, in my view, nothing more than a fantasy. Whenever you have that many people of the same gender confined together for long periods of time there is going to be sexual activity. And when you have a large number of such people confined together, some of that sexual activity is going to be forced or coerced.
It's the "law of the jungle", after all. The stronger ones will always prey on the weaker ones. It happens in prison just like it happens out on the streets.
We are all trained to look for the signs of this event and when we discover that there is some sort of sexual abuse happening, we have a system in place to report it and punish the perpetrator.
We were under the impression that this was about the best we could do, under the circumstances.
After all, the only real way to completely eliminate this problem would be to confine every single one of them in a cell by themselves and never ever allow them any kind of physical contact with another person until the term of their confinement was completed.
That would work, in theory.
Of course probably 75% of them would leave prison completely insane from the isolation....
But that's not my problem. We would make sure that they weren't raped while they were in there and that's the bottom line, right?
Oooh.... No pun intended there.
Well.... maybe just a small one.
Since jails and prisons all over the world are becoming inconveniently overcrowded, there's little or no chance of trying out my master plan any time in the future anyway. The courts in California have decreed that they must release some ten thousand plus offenders out into the population to reduce their overcrowding problem.
It will be interesting to see what that does to the crime rate numbers in California and neighboring states in the next few months.
At any rate....
The law has been in effect, as I said, since 2003.
We all thought that we were doing our best to prevent this from happening and punish those who broke the law to the extent we were capable.
Nobody that I know of had ever looked at the federal guidelines which had been published on the matter. That sort of thing is above my pay grade, anyway. My job is more "nuts and bolts" down on the front lines. Look for this, find that, fix it or respond to it and take care of the problem.
Well, it turns out that the state had been receiving federal grant money for the last ten years to support their little dream of completely eliminating sexual abuse in our prisons. There was no auditing system in place so apparently we were taking the money and saying "Yes, we are doing everything we can do. No worries. We got this." and going on our merry way, content we were doing a good job.
After ten years I guess someone in Washington DC decided "Let's see what we are getting for our money." So now they have decided to send auditors out to ensure that we are doing our very utmost to eliminate sexual assaults and harassment in our jails and prisons.
As such some people in our own capitol building have finally looked at their standards and said "Holy snap. We have to start doing all of this stuff right now." And they began issuing edicts left and right, willy-nilly without considering what the effects on the front line troops would be.
Like a Commanding General who has never actually been in a war, we are being led by people, many of whom have never even stepped foot inside of a prison. let alone ever actually worked in one.
Mistakes are being made, in my opinion.
Some of which are going to have some long-lasting repercussions down the road.
I will attempt to relate what some of those mistakes are in future posts.
Not sure if I'm back for the long run or not.
I've had the itch to write off and on for awhile now.
No promises, but we'll see.