jump to example.com

It isn’t policy: It’s prisons

prisons | @nickfnord | Support this author on Patreon

The Legal Aid Society is a private, not-for-profit legal service in New York whose motto is, “No New Yorker should be denied access to justice because of poverty.” In keeping with this philosophy, Legal Aid Society announced in late February that they’d brought a class action lawsuit against the New York Department of Corrections Community Supervision (DOCCS). The lawsuit was brought on behalf of six anonymous women in various New York state prisons, all of whom are alleging sexual abuse.

The lawsuit cites a “culture of indifference” to women being abused by prison guards. This is also something we’ve seen at the former Julia Tutwiler Prison in Alabama. And much like Tutwiler, these prisons have “policies” for “addressing” prison guards who engage in sexual abuse against inmates.

But the lawsuit makes clear that the policies of the DOCCS are inadequate: “Under DOCCS policies, officers are not subject to any greater supervision and are allowed to maintain their job assignments even when they have been the subject of repeated and similar allegations of abuse.” The lawsuit goes on to mention the lack of security for correction officers coming into prisons which allows them to smuggle in illicit substances. The corrections officers then use these substances to “manipulate and coerce prisoners.”

The lawsuit also explains that most of the abuses happen where there are no cameras in use and that even when a process of accountability is supposedly in place, it is often inadequate. Not the least of which because prisoners fear retaliation from the prison guards who are likely to get off easy. This disparity in consequences for prisoners and guards ratchets up incentives to not file complaints.

DOCCS spokesman Thomas Mailey said that, “[the department] takes all allegations of sexual abuse seriously but doesn’t comment on litigation… In addition to rigorous employee training for both staff and inmates, we continue to strictly adhere to established guidelines under the Prison Rape Elimination Act.”

Mailey doesn’t understand, or doesn’t want to understand, that the polices are themselves rooted in a corrupt system that engenders violence and sexual abuse. The power disparities between prison guards and inmates and between inmates themselves creates an environment where things like rape, sexual harassment and violence become pervasive. These elements are so deeply ingrained in the prison institution as to ensure remedial policies will be underwhelming in their results.

This makes the lawsuit itself an endeavor that may prove underwhelming to the women who have been sexually abused. I hope that it isn’t, and I hope they are successful in getting justice. But the odds are not in their favor.

In addition to using the state’s own courts to get DOCCS to comply with its own regulations, there are many hurdles to correctly implementing prison reform policy. Consider the reform effort to create more women’s prisons which dates back to the mid 19th century. It attempts to reduce sexual violence against women. A laudable goal, but according to Victoria Law, author of Resistance Behind Bars, “the total number of women sentenced to prison tripled.”

Today, this policy has only caused further spikes in the imprisonment of women. Thus, it contributes to the current crisis that occurred in Tutwiler Prison for over 20 years before it was closed. But these same problems are continuing in other prisons as well. The problem then isn’t just inadequate policies but prisons themselves.

There is no justice to be found in the state courts, no justice to be found in the prison system.

Let’s abolish both and move towards liberatory structures of justice that include restitution,restoration and transformation for ourselves and the communities we inhabit.

   
Discussion
 
Highlights

Street Knowledge with Chris Graham: Libertarian gubernatorial nominee Cliff Hyra

Chris Graham interviews Libertarian gubernatorial nominee Cliff Hyra.

Another new poll gives Northam big lead in Virginia governor race

One Virginia governor race poll released yesterday had Democrat Ralph Northam and Republican Ed Gillespie tied.

Poll: Trump unpopular in Virginia

President Donald Trump is well under water among Virginia voters, according to new poll results released by the University of Mary Washington.

The Petty Hearts bring Tom Petty tribute to Wayne Theatre on Sept. 22

Tom Petty tribute band The Petty Hearts are coming to the Wayne Theatre on Friday, Sept. 22.

Virginia Chili, Blues n' Brews Festival set for Saturday

The Virginia Chili, Blues n' Brews Festival will celebrate its 10th anniversary on Saturday in Downtown Waynesboro.

Events Calendar

Upcoming events in the Shenandoah Valley, Central Virginia and statewide from the Augusta Free Press Events Calendar. Don't see your event listed? Email augustafreepress2@gmail.com.

UVA alum Chris Long to donate first six NFL game checks to fund scholarships

The Chris Long Foundation announced today that Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long will donate his first six game checks of the 2017 NFL season to fund two scholarships in his hometown of Charlottesville.

Game Preview: VMI, Chattanooga look to get back on track on Saturday

VMI knew the 2017 football season was going to be a rebuilding year. Chattanooga, coming off a playoff appearance in 2016, had its usual high expectations.

Game Preview: UVA has a chance at Boise State

Vegas and the ESPN Power Index don’t give UVA much of a chance to win at Boise State on Friday night.

Street Knowledge with Chris Graham: First look at UVA-Boise State

Chris Graham and Scott German take a first look at the UVA-Boise State game set for Friday night.

Web Design, Marketing

Augusta Free Press LLC provides clients in the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia and beyond with marketing and PR solutions including web design, TV/radio, social media and overall marketing campaign design and implementation.

   
Recent Posts
   
Your One-Stop Media Shop
Augusta Free Press LLC provides clients in the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia and beyond with marketing and PR solutions including web design, magazine/brochure, TV/radio, social media and overall marketing campaign design and implementation.
  • Web Design

    You want a new website, but don’t have the first clue as to how to build one. That’s our job. We take care of all facets of web design – visual design, layout design and content development. Get your business online for as little as $1,299.
    Learn more about AFP Web Design services.
  • Graphic Design

    The staff at Augusta Free Press Publishing has been recognized by the Virginia Press Association for excellence in layout and design. Whether you need a fresh business card design, rack card, ad, flyer or full magazine design, we can help with all your graphic-design needs.
    Learn more about AFP Graphic Design services.
  • Marketing

    Augusta Free Press manages advertising campaigns for small- and medium-sized businesses across Virginia. You don’t need to hire a full-time marketing coordinator. Bring the experience of the Augusta Free Press team to work for you – for a fraction of the cost.
    Learn more about AFP Marketing services.