The Good News About Prison Rape

PrisonTake Part – by Matthew Fleischer

The Department of Justice finally addresses an epidemic of sexual abuse.

Jan Lastocy only had a few months of hard time left on her sentence before she was home free. An inmate at Camp Branch women’s work camp in Coldwater, Michigan, Lastocy was serving an 18-month to 10-year prison sentence for attempted embezzlement. Prior to her sentencing, she had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She and her husband of 18 years were hoping her time in prison would give her the break she needed for her meds to kick in and pull her life back together.

“He thought I would be safer on the inside than I would be on the outside,” Lastocy tells Take Part. “He had no idea the kinds of things that happen in these facilities.

As part of her sentence, Lastocy worked in a warehouse at the nearby Lakeland Men’s Facility. At first, her experience there wasn’t much different than your typical job—other than the routine pat-downs. But after nearly a month at the facility, a new male guard showed up and immediately began making sexual advances at her.

Lastocy was terrified. Guards had the power to write up inmates arbitrarily. Piss off a guard, and it could cost an extra five years of hard time. Lastocy didn’t want to rock the boat—so she said nothing. “Our warden had made it clear that if it came down to the word of inmate versus a guard, she was always going to believe the guard,” Lastocy says. “I put down my head and counted down the days.”

Eventually, the guard was no longer satisfied with aggressive flirting. He demanded sex—or else. Lastocy had already witnessed this particular guard write a ticket that tacked a few months onto another inmate’s sentence—just for making a face he didn’t like. To see her family again, Lastocy felt she had to give in to his demands.

“Unless you’re in that situation, where someone has total control of you, you can’t understand how hopeless it is. You’re told what to do and when to do it at all times. I didn’t take a chance on not doing what I was told.”

The abuse went on for nearly six months before Lastocy was transferred to a halfway house.

The issue of sexual assault in American prison and jail systems is rarely talked about in any kind of solution-oriented way. It’s often treated as a hyperbolic joke. “We have this stereotypical notion of ‘Bubba’s going to be your best friend. Don’t drop the soap in the shower,’ ” Lastocy says.

But prison rape is no joke—and it happens all the time. A recent report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics estimated that nearly 1 in 10 inmates in America had been sexually assaulted in custody. That’s out of a prison population of 2.3 million. You do the math.

Last week, however, a major step was taken toward ending prison rape for good. After nearly nine years of waiting, the U.S. Department of Justice finally issued a series of steadfast guidelines for preventing sexual abuse in our correctional facilities. The guidelines mandate intensive screening of prison staff—who are believed to perpetrate half of the sexual assaults inside prison walls—the ability to report sexual assault to an outside agency, as well as ensure medical treatment and mental health counseling for victims.

“This is a sea change moment in the decades-long fight against sexual abuse in detention,” Chris Daley, deputy executive director of the prison advocacy group Just Detention International, tells TakePart. “For the first time, we now have uniform policies in place for inmate safety.”

9 thoughts on “The Good News About Prison Rape

  1. Remember this arricle people when they open up those FEMA camps. Also when a judge sends someone to prison they always say that it is for their own good and that they will receive the help that they need to be a productive member of society when they get out. Like prison has ever been benificial for anyone. And also remember that there is a lot of people in prison that are innocent and others that are there because they were over charged and sentenced – mostly because they couldn`t afford a high buck lawyer.

  2. I have to wonder why this is about a woman being raped in prison. I am only taking a guess here but wouldn’t more men be raped in detention than women?
    I guess that it’s a tragedy if a woman gets raped but a smutty joke when its a man.

    1. actually, due to prison rape, there are more men raped in the U.S.A. than women (in or out of prison). I was surprised this article focused on woman too. It almost seems like an attempt to hide a bigger problem.

      And now one private prison company is letting the prison gangs provide security, including making cell assignments. (“put that cute one in my cell” kind of thing)

      1. and rape is obviously evil when it happens to anyone, but at least a woman’s body was designed to endure that kind of activity.

        1. “…at least a woman’s body was designed to endure that kind of activity.”

          Does not the lower gastrointestinal tract accommodate whatever the diameter of output?

          I’m stunned that you actually posted such a heinous statement.

          And I am saddened by your statement. All people, regardless of gender, deserve better.

  3. I one of two things happening from this policy:

    1. The policy would be put into effect but will be nothing more than a dog and pony show on the outside and nothing of change on the inside because no one will enforce it.


    2. The policy would be put into effect and will cause a further rift between warden, prison guards and inmates to the point that you would have a civil war in the prison facility much like the on-going social civil war that is going on outside the prison facility in the streets of our country today.

    Either way, it won’t change anything.

    1. Yup NC, that is another thing that I was thinking when posting this article. When we got cartel members locked up in state or federal prison then nothing is gonna change and the cartel will have more power over the prison employees than they do on the streets with free people. Cartell tells the prison wardon or the prison screw i.e. prison guard what to do more in prison than they ever could do to somebody on the streets.

    1. That doesn’t surprise me. Most white guys are better looking than black girls. It could be a big reason why they keep going back.

      I knew a drug dealer who intentionally got himself locked up so he could be with his prison boyfriend. He had a wife and kids too.

Join the Conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *