Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

From the Editor

Welcome to the last issue of PLN for 2011. Since we began publishing PLN, the issue of prisoner rape and sexual assault has been an important priority. There has been some improvement, at least as far as raising public awareness around this issue, over the past two decades. But the reality is that the sexual assault of prisoners remains the only forum in which the mainstream media and politicians can joke about someone being raped. In many ways, culturally, politically and legally, the sexual assault of prisoners in particular and men in general is where the rape of women was 40 or 50 years ago.

As this month’s cover story by Alan Prendergast illustrates, all too often when prisoners have been raped, the police state is silent and the victim is deemed to be a liar, exaggerating or “asking for it.” The bigger political issue is the reality that prison rape and sexual abuse is an essential tool of modern American prison management. As prevalent as it is, it could not be so widespread were it not at least tacitly condoned if not encouraged by prison and jail officials.

President Bush signed the ambitiously-named Prison Rape Elimination Act into law in 2003, yet PREA is merely a data collection law that creates no rights, contains no enforceable standards and relies on self-reported statistics from the very agencies charged with protecting prisoners from rape. As the cover story notes, the Department of Justice has missed several deadlines, under pressure from the prison industry, that would create minimal standards designed to at least make prison rape a little less likely. But even that is apparently an unattainable goal in the era of hoping for change.

I would like to thank everyone who has donated to our 2011 fundraiser. If you have not yet done so, it is not too late! We rely on donations from our readers to publish the magazine and undertake the advocacy we do on behalf of prisoners around the country. Even if you cannot afford a donation, if you know others who can, please encourage them to donate.

We have a number of interesting stories being prepared for 2012, and in conjunction with Thousand Kites and Mag Net we are preparing to undertake a national campaign designed to end the outrageous rates that prisoners’ families must pay for phone calls from prisons and jails. PLN’s April 2011 cover story about prison phone rates has sparked a huge amount of interest and enthusiasm among advocates and activists interested in ending the abusive practices of the prison phone industry. PLN readers will be informed of what happens in the campaign, and asked to help on this issue.

Everyone at PLN and the Human Rights Defense Center would like to wish all of our readers a happy new year of greater struggle.

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login