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"Alabama Looked The Other Way As Prison Staff Habitually Raped Women, Demanded Sexual Favors, DOJ Finds"

We should not have men working as prison guards over female prisoners. It always leads to the worst kind of abuse.

Alabama Looked The Other Way As Prison Staff Habitually Raped Women, Demanded Sexual Favors, DOJ Finds | ThinkProgress

A Department of Justice report has found that the state’s rampant abuse violates the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, and calls on Gov. Robert Bentley (R) to make immediate changes or face a lawsuit.

“Tutwiler has a history of unabated staff-on-prisoner sexual abuse and harassment,” the report said. “The women at Tutwiler universally fear for their safety. They live in a sexualized environment with repeated and open sexual behavior…”

After interviewing “administrative staff, security staff, medical and mental health staff, facilities” and reviewing internal policies and instructional content, the DOJ concluded that the maximum-security facility grossly violates prisoners’ rights, by inflicting physical and mental harm. Staff members habitually rape and sodomize inmates, women are also called derogatory names, and are often watched while they shower or dress. In many cases, women provide sexual favors in order to escape punishment. Staff members also withhold privileges and personal items, including clothing and hygiene products, unless the inmates perform sexual acts. For instance:

…Officer B solicits and receives oral sex from prisoners in exchange for gifts or new uniforms and underwear. He has a reputation for being aggressive and threatening, and one prisoner described him as a “sexual predator.” In 2012 and 2013, several women reported that he touches prisoners inappropriately, licks his lips at them, and watches them shower at the Tutwiler Annex.

Altogether, 36 percent of all staff members were involved in some form of sexual abuse, creating a “toxic environment.” Of 223 letters from prisoners, 25 percent of them described sexual misconduct, and 55 percent mentioned “vile and degrading language directed at prisoners.” Nevertheless inmates are hesitant to report the systemic abuse because of backlash for filing complaints. In cases when women did speak up, they “were placed in segregation with limited or no access to a telephone, visitors, or programs for an extended time period,” forced to undergo polygraph tests to determine if they were lying, and “verbally harassed” by staff members.