Comment of the Day

Reader: Prison rape does occur in the Colorado system whether officials want to admit it or not

Alan Prendergast's post about prison rape, which one sheriff compared to UFOs and other cultural delusions, sparked a response from a reader identifying himself as a veteran correctional officer.

He says such incidents are no fantasy.

Thomaspaine2nd writes:

I can tell you, from experience (20+ years working as a correctional officer) that prison rape does occur in the Colorado Department of Corrections. Anyone who tells you it doesn't, or that it is a rare occurrence is lying to you. I've seen it, and so have many, many others. There are two main reasons that it is not reported. First, you have to understand PREA (the Prison Rape Elimination Act) which does state that ANY sexual act between inmates is considered rape. CDOC emphatically states that there is no such thing as "consensual" sex between inmates because, simply put, sex is not allowed between inmates. Period. Because of this, most staff, and most inmates will not report any sexual act (whether consensual or not) between inmates. Second, and most importantly, staff are discouraged from reporting it. Not officially of course, but there is a certain amount of stigmatization placed upon staff who do report it. They are laughed at in roll call when their reports are read, they are laughed at by disciplinary officers when their reports are reviewed, they are laughed at by their supervisors when they submit their reports, and to top it off, the administration will do nothing about these reports unless the inmate victim is injured in the rape AND if the inmate victim seeks medical attention. Prison rapes are a fact of life in prison. Some are violent assaults, and some are forced through intimidation.

It always amazes me that people are so naive about what goes on inside a prison, not only between inmates, but also between staff and inmates and admin and line staff. Of the 20+ years I spent in my chosen career, I spent 18 of those years with the Colorado Department of Corrections, working both at the Denver Reception and Diagnostic Center (I was there when it opened) and at the Limon Correctional Facility (one of the most corrupt, if not THE most corrupt facilities in all of CDOC). During my time with the CDOC I encountered more inmate on inmate and staff on inmate rapes than I can even count. I reported some of the things I witnessed and I was punished for reporting them. So I stopped. (My bad, yes I know, but my sense of self-preservation outweighed my need to protect anyone else). I did, however, continue to document everything I witnessed, and I kept copies of every memo that was given to me (such as the LCF housing memo instructing inmates to use old rags rather than toilet paper, and to turn the rags in when they were done with them). Suffice to say, I do know what I am talking about. Rape does occur in prisons (at least CDOC prisons), as does prostitution, graft, gambling, theft, protection rackets, assault, murder, extortion, and virtually any crime that happens on the street also happens in prison (again, at least in CDOC prisons and these crimes are not always inmate on inmate). When will people wake up and smell the coffee?

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts