Despite the recent get-tough-on-criminals rhetoric, life behind
bars has never been cushy. And, according to a recent study by
Human Rights Watch, conditions for women inmates have become
particularly terrifying. 'There's a Bosnia-like epidemic of rape
and psychosexual torture going on inside America's prisons,' report
Christopher Cook and Christian Parenti in In These Times
(Dec. 27, 1998). 'In public and private facilities across the
United States, female inmates are routinely forced into performing
stripteases, lap dances, and sexual favors.' And though some women
have successfully filed civil suits against officials who allow
such practices, legal action is becoming increasingly rare, Cook
and Parenti note. The 1996 Prison Litigation Reform Act requires
inmates to pay exorbitant court fees and imposes stiff fines for
lawsuits the courts define as frivolous. 'Prison rape is aided and
abetted by a legal system in which inmates are deemed incurable
criminals, forever guilty until proven innocent,' they write.
'Prisoners have few allies or legal protections, and what avenues
for recourse they do have are being cut off.
In These Times
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