Cliff Schecter, Ohio, The Supreme Court & Ending Prison Rape, Buck Eye State Blog, April 30, 2010
Some of you may have seen that our beloved Buckeye State--thanks to a couple of kooky federal appeals court judges--is on the vanguard of declaring that if you're a prison official, and are aware that guards are raping inmates, no sweat if you feel the need to avert your eyes and do nothing about it.
Now the Supreme Court has jumped into the fray by agreeing to take this case, we'll get to see if former inmate Michelle Ortiz has the right to sue two prison officials who not only ignored her pleas, but sent her to solitary for complaining and not just taking it like a good girl.
Which brings me to what you can do to try and drastically lessen the number of women (who studies show are most vulnerable) and men being raped by prison guards (the majority of cases) or another inmates and help put an end to this disgusting practice, which has all-too-often been swept under a Gitmo-sized rug. You can speak up and make your voice heard.
Right now there is what's called an "open comment period" at the Department of Justice on this issue in general, because back in 2003 Congress unanimously passed, and George W. Bush signed, the Prison Rape Elimination Act. It created a mandate for solutions to this problem, which were later offered by a commission made up of rape victims, corrections officials, criminal justice experts and advocates. It includes such common sense measures as independent audits of prisons and providing additional monitoring of known predators and those most likely to become victims.
Currently, I am consulting for Just Detention International, an organization dedicated to ending prison rape, and they have a petition on their site you can sign which will be delivered to Attorney General Holder on May 10th. Because there needn't be any more Michelle Ortiz' in the future. This scourge is preventable, if we only raise our voices in unison and decide to act.