Rape in male prisons is a highly discussed topic in regards to incarceration in the United States. Although sometimes going unnoticed, rape of young men in prison is a very common occurrence and a dangerous one at that. Most often this topic is referred to as “Prison Rape”. Scott L. Anderson a former prison guard at a Minnesota Prison discusses the reasoning behind prison rapes and some interesting facts regarding the topic. Overall there is a total of 196,000 cases of men being raped in prison each year. Out of the 196,000 cases, 40,000 are juveniles being raped in adult prisons (Anderson). Although these are shocking statistics, most rapes go unnoticed and accounted for, so in reality there are most likely many more cases. Moreover, it is estimated that most rapes occur against young men who are white, middle class and physically small. From this group, 56% of rapes are committed by black men raping white men (Anderson). The majority of rapes by men are estimated to be done by black gangs within the prison system, this is largely because white young males lack solidarity within the system and are in fact the minority group among the prison population (Anderson).
Furthermore, Anderson describes three common groups that are involved or are the typical victims of prison rape. The first group is commonly known as “the predators”, also known as the jocks. The second group is called “the jailhouse queens,” this group tends to be those men who have feminine characteristics and identities within the prison. The last group is “the punks” also known as the inmates who are younger and weaker (Anderson).
Overall, the argument discussing prison rape and the problems that go with it is not only violence and violation, but it is a discussion of physical and mental health as well. It is estimated that 15.4 inmates commit suicide to every 100,000 prisoners, with the exception of California which has an estimated 179 suicides to every 100,000 inmates (Anderson). Moreover, considering the lack of contraception in the prison system the average rate of HIV and AIDS is six times the national average in prison (Anderson).
Ultimately, Anderson describes many shocking statistics regarding the violence and abundance of male rapes in prison. Through this action there are many cases of deaths because of AIDS and suicides. The mental health of a prisoner who has suffered numerous rapes can be very difficult to overcome once released from ones sentence. TJ Parsell is an example of this difficulty, which, he discusses in his memoir “Fish: a Memoir of a Boy in Man’s Prison” about being a young man (17-21) serving a sentence for armed robbery. In his experience in Jackson Prison in Michigan, Parsell now an adult discusses the psychological trauma he faces after his prison rape experiences. Ultimately, he discusses the struggles he faced being constantly raped in prison and the experience he went through in overcoming that trauma after being released.
Lastly, prison rape in men’s prisons is from what we can see a common occurrence. From these rapes leads to mental and physical instability and ultimately, trauma. How can we lower these risks, and help these men to overcome negative experiences once released from prison?