From the Editor
by Paul Wright
This month’s cover story delves into the sexual harassment of Missouri DOC employees by their co-workers. As we see from recent news reports, relatively powerful men in the media and entertainment industry resign or get fired because they either can’t or won’t keep their comments or hands to themselves, or venture into outright sexual assault and rape. This makes me wonder when – or if – that degree of accountability will be applied to the American police state.
Over the years, PLN has repeatedly reported on sexual harassment and assault of prison and jail employees by their colleagues and co-workers. The largest sexual harassment and wage discrimination case in Connecticut history was, not surprisingly, against the state’s Department of Correction. Likewise, the largest reverse sexual harassment jury award in New Jersey involved a female lieutenant who demanded sex from a male subordinate.
In reviewing verdicts and settlements against prisons and jails, the most significant awards and payouts tend to involve employee litigation – and as jaded as we might be at PLN, the behavior of corrections staff towards their own is truly appalling even in the context of routine abuse and neglect of prisoners. The big takeaway is that prison and jail officials who show such indifference to human dignity and wellbeing don’t switch it on or off depending on who the victims are. The lack of transparency and accountability that permeates the U.S. corrections system allows sexual harassment, abuse and related misconduct to thrive, and inaction by prison and jail officials reflects their tacit approval and encouragement, whether the victims are prisoners or their own employees.
It is no surprise that Missouri’s prison system has rampant sexual harassment given its many other problems. To date, there has been little indication that any meaningful steps will be taken to end the sexual harassment and abuse of prisoners or staff alike. The American public is not yet demanding the jobs of government officials who facilitate and enable sexual abuse of prisoners or prison employees.
As this issue of PLN goes to press we are publishing our third issue of Criminal Legal News, and our subscriber base continues to grow. The response has been so encouraging that we are increasing CLN’s page count to 48 pages each month to bring readers even more news! If you are interested in policing, criminal law and procedure, sentencing and related issues, please consider subscribing to CLN.
The big news is that in early January we moved our office to a new location in Lake Worth, Florida. Thanks to everyone who was helpful and supportive during the move, and who donated to assist with our substantial relocation expenses. Next month we will post pictures of our new office; the move itself went pretty well, with fewer problems than expected. The new location gives us a little more space than we had before and we are also not sharing the space with any other groups or people.
Going into the New Year you can expect to find more cutting-edge stories on prisons and jails around the country, including information the government doesn’t want you to read. Enjoy this issue, and please encourage others to subscribe to PLN (and CLN!).