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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Basic rights perspective sees “marriage-equality,” politician-pandering sham

Women in prison, the suffering defenseless, raped and ridiculed by people in positions of authority thes indisputably are breaches of human rights without lobbyist or pandering politician
By Carolyn Bennett (excerpts, editing, comment) 

Reported yesterday to the U.S. Department of Justice were results of an Equal Justice Initiative, “Investigation into Sexual Violence at Tutwiler Prison for Women”

Finding One
Correctional staff are raping incarcerated women

Based on its investigations, the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) concluded that, between 2004 and 2011, officials of Tutwiler Prison for Women and the Alabama Department of Corrections received dozens of complaints of sexual misconduct involving male staff and women prisoners.

“The most visible and striking evidence of Tutwiler staff members’ illegal sexual contact with incarcerated women is the resulting pregnancies.

“In 2010, a woman in custody gave birth to a baby after being raped by a correctional officer at Tutwiler Prison.

“Over the past five years, [the Equal Justice Initiative] received numerous complaints from women who became pregnant after having been raped by male correctional staff.”

Finding Two
Correctional staff are sexually assaulting incarcerated women

“From 2006 to 2011, several women incarcerated at Tutwiler Prison were sexually assaulted by male correctional staff, sometimes with another male officer serving as a lookout.

“Women also have been coerced by male correctional staff who smuggled contraband items, including food and toiletries, and required women to perform sexual ‘favors’ in exchange for the contraband goods.”

Universal Declaration of Human Rights [1948] Preamble

Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

Whereas it is essential, if man is [people are] not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law…

Equal Justice Initiative continues
Finding Three
The system and officials are subjecting incarcerated women to
pervasive sexual harassment

“Unwelcome sexual touching, harassment and taunting, verbal abuse, and other forms of sexual misconduct by male correctional staff [against] female inmates are commonplace.

“Incarcerated women who complained about being sexually harassed reported that the warden’s response was to call them liars, to accuse them of trying to get the officers in trouble with their wives, and to threaten them with segregation and loss of privileges.”

Finding Four
Evidence shows Alabama officials are under-reporting
the number of incidents of sexual assault

Since September 2010, the Alabama Department of Corrections has provided NO data on sexual misconduct.

During 2011, at least four Tutwiler employees were indicted on charges of custodial sexual misconduct or custodial sexual abuse.

Though in 2009, the Department of Corrections reported NO incidents of sexual misconduct or harassment, court records show two officers in women’s facilities were indicted for custodial sexual misconduct that year.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Articles pertaining

Article 3: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and the security of person.

Article 5: No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 12: No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his [her] privacy …, nor to attacks upon his [her] honor and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Equal Justice Initiative continues
Finding Five
Allegations of sexual abuse are met with punitive responses, creating an atmosphere of intimidation,
discouraging inmate complaints of sexual misconduct

Women who report sexual abuse at Tutwiler Prison for Women are routinely placed in segregation by the warden; and while in segregation, these women are treated as “women held there for punitive reasons: deprived of telephone, mail, and visiting privileges; denied access to recreation, programs, or work assignments.

Incarcerated women sexually abused by correctional officers are denied the right to know the results of Department of Corrections’ investigations into their cases — even when the claims of sexual abuse have been substantiated and formal action has been taken to fire the offending correctional officer.

Finding Six
Tutwiler Prison for Women fails to enforce restrictions on male correctional officers’ viewing nude inmates creates
an increased and unnecessary
risk of sexual misconduct and abuse

Defenseless naked to impunity of the depraved
Women incarcerated at Tutwiler Prison for Women have virtually no means of preventing male guards or other staff from viewing their nude bodies while they change clothes, shower, or even use the bathroom.

There is evidence that some male officers exploit their authority and unbridled access to incarcerated women’s nude bodies by standing in the dorm or shower areas, watching women undress and bathe, commenting on their bodies. Witness reports affirm that male officers frequently stand in toilet and shower areas watching women undress, bathe, and use the toilet.

Inmates reported to Equal Justice Initiative investigators that their complaints of these depraved toilet/shower voyeurs were met with laughter.

 Universal Declaration of Human Rights [1948] Preamble
Excerpt continues

Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in cooperation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge —

Now, therefore proclaimed in 1948 by nations assembled at the UN General Assembly: “this Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.”

One would think that the U.S. States of Alabama, Illinois, California, New York and others, states domestic and international, and their politicians and citizens are not exempt from the rule of this universal declaration nor are they unable to figure out the difference between mere “desires” of individuals and basic rights due to human beings as and for no other reason than because they are human beings.

Sources and notes
“In Alabama, accounts of sexual violence in women’s prison draw call for investigation,” May 22, 2012, http://fsrn.org/

Universal Declaration of Human Rights Preamble and 30 articles at Britannica
Equal Justice Initiative, “Investigation Into Sexual Violence at Tutwiler Prison for Women” (findings), May 2012, http://eji.org/eji/files/EJI%20Findings_from_Tutwiler_Investigation.pdf

“Complaint Filed Today with Department of Justice Finding Widespread Pattern of Officer-on-Inmate Sexual Violence at Prison for Women in Alabama,” May 22, 2012

“…The Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) filed a complaint with the U.S. Justice Department calling for a swift and thorough federal investigation into widespread sexual abuse of women prisoners by male guards at Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka, Alabama.

“In interviews with more than 50 women incarcerated at Tutwiler, EJI uncovered evidence of frequent and severe officer-on-inmate sexual violence.

“EJI is now asking the Department of Justice to investigate the Alabama Department of Corrections’ failure to adequately protect prisoners from sexual violence by Tutwiler employees.…” http://eji.org/eji/node/637
Equal Justice Initiative (EJI)

The Equal Justice Initiative litigates on behalf of condemned prisoners, juvenile offenders and people wrongly convicted or charged with violent crimes; poor people denied effective representation and others whose trials are marked by racial bias or prosecutorial misconduct.

EJI works with communities marginalized by poverty and discouraged by unequal treatment.

EJI prepares reports, newsletters and manuals to assist advocates and policymakers in the critically important work of reforming the administration of criminal justice.

The Equal Justice Initiative is a private, nonprofit organization providing legal representation to indigent defendants and prisoners who have been denied fair and just treatment within the legal system.

Contact information: Equal Justice Initiative, 122 Commerce Street, Montgomery, Alabama 36104; Phone: 334-269-1803; Fax: 334-269-1806; Email: contact_us@eji.org

Tutwiler Prison for Women

According to its website, this prison is “named in honor of the ‘Angel of the Stockades,’ Julia S. Tutwiler, a noted Alabama educator and crusader for inmate education, classification, and improvement of prison conditions” [astonishing]; and is a “death-row,” “maximum-security prison”…

Receiving unit for all in-coming female inmates; nine dormitories, segregation and isolation units, medical infirmary, units for inmates who are pregnant, HIV positive, or aged and/or infirmed; an auditorium, a chapel, substance-abuse treatment, and administrative ancillary services; clothing factory manufacturing inmate clothing items for the Department and county jails. Capacity: 956

Opened in 1942, later expanded: 8966 U.S. Highway 231 North, Wetumpka, AL 36092
Warden: Frank Albright, Phone: (334) 567-4369

Alabama Department of Corrections
Kim T. Thomas, Commissioner
301 S. Ripley Street
P.O. Box 301501
Montgomery, AL 36130-1501
Phone: 334-353-3883 (Central Office Switchboard)
Other Officials: Deputy Commissioner Maintenance & Construction
 Greg Lovelace, 353-3872; Treatment Director, Ron Cavanaugh, 353-3887; Community Corrections Director, Jeffery Williams, 353-4633; Supervised Reentry Program, Steve Watson, 353-9702; Victim/Constituent Services, Janet LeJeune, 353-3871; General Counsel, Anne Hill,
353-3885; Public Information Manager, Brian Corbett

Robert Bentley, Governor


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