Analyzing Prison Sex: Reconciling Self-Expression with Safety

Brenda V. Smith

in Interrupted Life

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2010 | ISBN: 9780520252493
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520944565 | DOI:
Analyzing Prison Sex: Reconciling Self-Expression with Safety

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This chapter examines the complexity of prison sex and the challenges that it raises in the context of recently enacted U.S. legislation, specifically the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA). PREA establishes “zero tolerance” for rape in custodial settings, requires data collection on the incidence of rape in each state, and establishes a National Prison Rape Elimination Commission. The commission is required to issue a report on the causes and consequences of prison rape and to develop national standards for the prevention, detection, and punishment of prison rape. The chapter first identifies a range of prisoner interests in enhanced sexual expression as part of an attempt to disentangle prisoners' rights in sexual expression from states' legitimate interests in regulating that expression. It then directs policy makers and decision makers to mine international documents and human rights norms that both recognize the necessity of punishment and outline standards for the safety of individuals in custody, the protection of human dignity, and the acknowledgement of the right to sexual self-expression.

Keywords: Prison Rape Elimination Act; prison sex; prison rape; safety; sexual self-expression; National Prison Rape Elimination Commission; punishment; human rights

Chapter.  3752 words. 

Subjects: Gender and Sexuality

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