Posted by: Ophelia | April 8, 2008

The Prison Complex

Sex abuse, violence alleged at teen jails across


Or at least a younger version.

“I will always remember them things around my ankles, the way they cut into me,” she said, pulling up her pant leg to show slash-mark scars on her ankles and heels. “They made you feel like you were nothing.”

When the lawsuit was filed in 2007, a U.S. Justice Department monitor was making periodic inspections at Columbia as part of a 2005 settlement with Mississippi in a previous case. The Justice investigation that led to that settlement found Columbia youths were hog-tied, forced to strip and eat their own vomit and were held in isolation in what was called the “Dark Room,” a windowless room with a hole in the floor used as a toilet.

In a handwritten affidavit, a 15-year-old girl described a male guard molesting her. She wrote: “He came inside my cell half way half of his body and he started touching me and he tryed (sic) to kiss me and then he left he came back with my snack in his hand and he opened my cell again and he started grabbing me around my waist and he tryed (sic) to stick his hands in my pants and I started crying.”

Accusations similar to those made in Ohio were made at a Florida boot camp in 2006. Martin Lee Anderson, 14, was seen on surveillance tape being beaten and restrained by guards. Anderson later died. Seven guards and a nurse were acquitted of manslaughter in October.

17-year-old Omar Paisley, who died at a Miami detention center of a ruptured appendix after begging for help during three days that he was in pain.A grand jury found that two nurses repeatedly failed to help Paisley. They are charged with third degree murder and manslaughter, have pleaded not guilty and are scheduled for trial in July.

At least one of the facilities detailed in the article is being closed, and lawsuits and investigations are ongoing at others, but the problems persist. That the idea of male guards for female juvenile inmates passes muster leaves me agog (a lot of the reports involve molestation by male guards committed against female inmates). Added onto the sexual abuse, we have psychological abuse. These people are dehumanized, how else could you explain guards and nurses ignoring cries of pain, and well turning a blind eye and deaf ear to accusations of abuse (this goes doubly for the administration of these prisons). It’s fairly obvious that these is no intent to reform (I noticed CNN mentioned that they were minor offenders–not that it’s any more appropriate for serious offenders). The intent is to dehumanize, to break their will–too bad that doesn’t keep anyone from committing crimes. The easy answer is to toss juvenile offenders in jail where they…what? No one has any answer besides jail. The people in charge of the prisons have already given up on helping these kids, and if that’s the case, why are they even putting them in jail? Oh right, money.

More on this when I get my thoughts back together.



  1. I sat here for a while thinking about what to say to this…I don’t really know. I have just been exposed to so many bad things that have and continue to happen in this world that I feel like I just need a little me time to be happy. But then I think, some young inmate might be suffering from molestation right now. Who am I to be silent? Inactive?

    Ahh…I think I’ll come back to this later as well, when I have my thoughts together.

  2. Yeah, I didn’t have much to say, I was basically at a loss and still am. Some things are so bad that they stand on their own but I really wanted to come up with a commentary for it.

  3. […] of Justice NoW I’ve briefly touched on the prison complex on at least two posts. I just wanted to point you to Feministing. They’ve been featuring a slew of Voices of […]

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