It seems to be a commonly held belief that rape is almost an accepted part of prison culture and this horrifies me. How common is it, and how is it possible for rape to occur in a maximum security prison where I assume that either cameras or guards are watching inmates all the time?
Fortunately, rape is not common in Colorado. It definitely happens, but since homosexuality is generally frowned upon by the male prisoners, it is not as common as in states where homosexuality is accepted.
Like with homosexuality in prison, rape also falls along cultural lines. White and Hispanic groups (with the exception of immigrants) tend to be very homophobic and their gangs in Colorado will usually beat up or stab any of their members who engage in homosexual activity. The black segment of the prison population, except for the Black Muslims, are far more accepting of homosexual behavior and thus “sharks” are more common among them.
Most whites will stick up for white kids who are the object of the sharks and the Hispanic gangs look out of their own. The problem is when the kid is a rat, a “check in”, or spurns help. Then he is left as prey (a “check-in” is someone who tries to go to the guards to be moved for his protection instead of fighting). It really is heart breaking to be forced to sit back and watch helplessly as a kid is circled by sharks, but stepping in when it is against the convict law of the land would only result in me being abandoned and left to fend off the sharks alone.
Most rape in Colorado isn’t a brutal rape, though that occurs. Usually the situation is that a scared kid is thrown to the sharks who take him in for protection in exchange for sexual favors. It is no less rape, but it is rape through intimidation, rather than force. The victim knows that telling only makes the situation worse, especially since it is technically consensual sex. If he snitches on his protector he only makes more enemies who want to extort, beat, rob him, or worse and it is even less likely to find another protector.
Even if a violent rape was a bigger threat in Colorado, losing privacy would be a cure worse than the disease. Even in a maximum security prison the cells are somewhat private. A guard has to walk up to the door and look in to see what’s going on in the cells. The same usually goes for the showers. It would truly suck to have constant surveillance and somebody watching while you used the toilet and performed other bodily functions, not to mention that guards certainly abuse the situation as they do in prisons which don’t have private showers (some ogle you, others make inappropriate comments). For me, my cell is my solace, my escape from an aggravating world. I would lose that very important psychological crutch if there were no privacy. I’d rather have to fight off a predator than lose that.