Prison Culture

More

By Patrick

Ezra Klein in the LA Times a few days ago:

Prison rape occupies a fairly odd space in our culture. It is, all at once, a cherished source of humor, a tacitly accepted form of punishment and a broadly understood human rights abuse. We pass legislation called the Prison Rape Elimination Act at the same time that we produce films meant to explore the funny side of inmate sexual brutality.

Occasionally, we even admit that prison rape is a quietly honored part of the punishment structure for criminals.

Convention dictates that no politician can afford to take on prisoners as a constituency. Politically prisoners are high risk and offer low returns. Release one inmate who relapses and a politician is immediately branded as soft on crime. The votes an elected official loses for implementing sensible prison reform aren't offset by the votes of prisoners or ex-felons since those groups are often denied the right to vote. There are good reasons for prison reform, some of which Ezra discusses, but rarely are the political obstacles to this reform openly acknowledged. Those most affected by the dysfunctional prison system are largely unable to exert the political pressure necessary to fix it. Prison rape is allowed  to go on partially because of the passive acceptance Ezra notes and partially because of the political disenfranchisement of the abused.

Jump to comments

2006-2011 archives for The Daily Dish, featuring Andrew Sullivan

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

What Is a City?

Cities are like nothing else on Earth.


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity

Video

Is Technology Making Us Better Storytellers?

The minds behind House of Cards and The Moth weigh in.

Video

A Short Film That Skewers Hollywood

A studio executive concocts an animated blockbuster. Who cares about the story?

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Video

What Is a Sandwich?

We're overthinking sandwiches, so you don't have to.

Video

Let's Talk About Not Smoking

Why does smoking maintain its allure? James Hamblin seeks the wisdom of a cool person.

Writers

Up
Down