Patrick Hurley, Dropping your Soap in the Shower and, that's.okay!, www.theonerepublic.com, January 19, 2006.

The government of the United States paid $939,233.00 for a study on the frequency of prisoner rape. The results may, uh, be an assault to your senses. According to Mark Fleisher, the cultural anthropologist who interviewed 564 randomly chosen inmates in 700 hours of interviewers, he says, "When inmates have sex, it is usually by choice and often engaged in as a way to win protection or privileges." Uh huh. So, let me get this straight in my mind. If I am an inmate and a big guy named Poncie comes up to me in the cafeteria and says, "Hey, the boys are thinking of killing you but if you agree to be my squeeze, I can protect you!" Would that be a CHOICE on my part to agree to his offer? I think the answer would be, yes. Kinda.

Fleisher continues his spin to justify his conclusions, "Inmates say it may happen, but the conditions under which it happens are rare. It is unlikely all the stars are going to align properly for this to happen, particularly in prisons today. You're going to get caught." Get CAUGHT? Heavens to Betsy! If you get caught, you could go to, (gasp!) PRISON! Oh, wait a minute! You are already IN prison! What a consequence that must be, right? They could add twenty or thirty MINUTES to your life sentence.

Besides, do the rapees (is that a word?) tell the warden, "Hey, I was raped by my bunkmate. Can you punish him for doing that, please?" The result of snitching on another prisoner is something that could be far worse than sexual assault. So, those who are raped, are not going to say anything which means one thing: Most rapists will NOT be caught. The government paid this guy almost a million dollars for THIS?

Naturally, the prison anti-rape forces went beserk over the study. Reggie Walton, a federal judge (I bet he has sent a LOT of those rapists to prison!) and chairman of the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission (which is the LONGEST title for any commission in America) reacted, "To take the position that it's not a problem and prisons are a safe place is asinine." He went to say that Fleisher's conclusions are, "totally inconsistent" with what he has learned in his thirty years in the criminal justice system.

Your move, Mr. Cultural Anthropologist.

"I have found that inmates' sexual activity is not routinely or overwhelmingly violent or aggressive and sex is engaged in by men or women who choose it." He added, "What outsiders see as rape is regarded differently by inmates. Prison rape worldview doesn't interpret sexual pressure as coercion. Rather, (you will love THIS!) sexual pressure ushers, guides or shepherds the process of sexual awakening."

So, I guess Michael Jackson was right! Damn.

There are no rapists, only shepherds. Herding their little lambs into the corner of the shower to gently soap them and nurture them in loving fashion that will allow them to find their romantic side in a way they were never allowed to express themselves before. This is not prison, no, this is an epiphany of feelings and emotions letting themselves out in order to sense, for the first time in their lives, what it is like to be held and hugged and cuddled because mommy or daddy was never there for them. But, thanks to places like San Quentin and Folsom, Bubba is their daddy. Like the playing catch scene in, "Field of Dreams," the young inmate can finally find peace with the absent parent. It is enough to make them cry, isn't it? According to Mark Fleisher, his version of their tears may be a tad different than T. J. Parsell, the board President for Stop Prison Rape who has a more personal take, "On my first day in prison my drink was spiked and I was raped by four inmates. When they were done, they flipped a coin to see which one I belonged to."

T.J. did not seem pleased that his, "love connection" worked out the way it did. I sympathize with him and all the other inmates who are not only violated physically by the sick and perverted assaults of their attackers but now are violated twice because of ridiculous government studies that minimize their horror and try to redefine what they are experiencing because a guy was able to con a commission into paying him to be a responsible anthropologist.

My solution for this is quite simple. Let Mark Fleisher become an inmate for a month or so.

I have a feeling he will write a far different report the next time out.

But, at least this way he will make his money the hard way. He will EARN it.