Human Rights Watch has issued a report on male-on-male prison rape in American prisons. As part of their research they solicited mail from prisoners. The following letter is the one they chose to open their report. Hat tip to Chrisopher Hayes.

I’ve been sentenced for a D.U.I. offense. My 3rd one. When I first came to prison, I had no idea what to expect. Certainly none of this. I’m a tall white male, who unfortunately has a small amount of feminine characteristics. And very shy. These characteristics have got me raped so many times I have no more feelings physically. I have been raped by up to 5 black men and two white men at a time. I’ve had knifes at my head and throat. I had fought and been beat so hard that I didn’t ever think I’d see straight again. One time when I refused to enter a cell, I was brutally attacked by staff and taken to segragation though I had only wanted to prevent the same and worse by not locking up with my cell mate. There is no supervision after lockdown. I was given a conduct report. I explained to the hearing officer what the issue was. He told me that off the record, He suggests I find a man I would/could willingly have sex with to prevent these things from happening. I’ve requested protective custody only to be denied. It is not available here. He also said there was no where to run to, and it would be best for me to accept things . . . . I probably have AIDS now. I have great difficulty raising food to my mouth from shaking after nightmares or thinking to hard on all this . . . . I’ve laid down without physical fight to be sodomized. To prevent so much damage in struggles, ripping and tearing. Though in not fighting, it caused my heart and spirit to be raped as well. Something I don’t know if I’ll ever forgive myself for.

That certainly has some deterrent effect. It hammers home for me why I should obey the law and avoid prison. However, giving someone HIV and subjecting them to rape, assault, and torture is inhumane, it’s illegal, it’s immoral, and, in this case, it is completely incommensurate with the offense. It’s appalling what goes on in our prisons. I saw another piece on American prisons on 60 Minutes last night. A prisoner with mental problems was allowed to die of thirst in a Michigan prison. They were strapping him to his bed for 18 hours a day. They caught his death on tape.

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