JDI IN THE NEWS - 2013

Daily Beast Under Fire Over Chelsea Manning Prison Sex Op-Ed

The publication adds editor's note after widespread outcry over its column, "How Will Chelsea Manning Be Treated in Prison?"

August 23, 2013
By Sara Morrison, The Wrap

TheWrap spoke with Just Detention International, a human rights organization that focuses on sexual abuse and assault in prison, about the Daily Beast's op-ed. Spokesman Jesse Lerner-Kinglake said Mansfield Frazier's article "doesn't reflect any serious research that's been done on the subject."

"LGBT people are disproportionately targeted" in prison, Lerner-Kinglake said. Mansfield's anecdotal opinion piece does not reflect the reality JDI has found through numerous surveys and studies.

"It does not reflect what we hear from thousands of survivors of sexual abuse and detention who reach out to JDI. So many of them are LGBT and face horrific violence and sexual abuse and sexual harassment," Lerner-Kinglake said, pointing to a 2012 survey from the Department of Justice that showed that 39 percent of gay male inmates reported that they had been sexually assaulted by another prisoner.

While JDI applauds Daily Beast's addition of an editor's note, Lerner-Kinglake said the article still "feeds into this trope that for people who are gay, prison is like a kid in a candy store."

"That's certainly not the case from the people that we hear from."

Previously: The Daily Beast came under fire on Thursday after a column theorizing about Chelsea Manning's prison sex life and the definition of "true rape" was widely attacked.

"How Will Chelsea Manning Be Treated in Prison?," written by Mansfield Frazier, was an opinion piece about life in prison for homosexual men and transgender individuals based on Frazier's experiences as a federal inmate. In the article, Frazier said Manning could be "treated quite well."

In a now-deleted section of the column, Frazier questioned whether or not prisoners were raped at all, saying many of them actually wanted it:

Indeed, the vast majority of experienced convicts know that "true" rape is not a common occurrence in prison. That doesn't mean that homosexual sex doesn't occur -- it certainly does. But it’s really not that unusual for a new prisoner to show up on the compound and begin walking around the yard in pants far too tight. Before long they drop the soap in the shower, get a little close to another naked man, and then -- simply because they've never been able to come to terms with their own sexuality -- tell anyone who will listen (but, interestingly enough, they usually never complain to the guards) that they were "raped." And a week or two later it could happen again, and then again.

The rest of Frazier's statements stayed, including: "When I was in the joint, rape wasn’t just something you could let happen to you."

Frazier concluded that Manning "will have choices in regard to how she wants to spend her years behind bars. With that said, we need to keep in mind that one person's prison is another person's palace. Chelsea Manning could become the queen bee."

After widespread outrage over social media and in the article's comments, the Daily Beast added an editor's note (which it also posted on its Twitter account) saying that while Frazier's article suggested that prison rape was rare, it is not:

Editor's note: This article is an opinion piece written by a former convict and based on his perceptions of life in federal prison. In its original version, it suggested that prison rape is rare. In fact, according to the advocacy group Just Detention International, 200,000 adults and children are sexually abused in American detention facilities every year. This trauma can carry serious emotional and physical consequences, including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and the risk of exposure to sexually transmitted infections.

Frazier has been a columnist for the Daily Beast since 2008. Neither The Daily Beast nor Mansfield returned requests for comment.

Originally posted at http://www.thewrap.com/media/column-post/daily-beast-blasted-controversial-column-about-prison-rape-112736


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