Horror Behind Bars: The Situation In America’s Prisons

“I still have nightmares and panic attacks,” DeEtta Williams, a former inmate narrates her ordeal during her stay in prison.

Prison is hard for even the hardest of criminals. The duty of prison guards is quite unclear in this country. One may normally assume they are there to enforce law and order while they protect the inmates.

However, that doesn’t seem to be the case. In fact, many former inmates have complained that while in prison they were repeatedly abused by correctional officers. For years this abuse has been going on, but no one seems to be interested in fixing the problem.

In female correctional facilities, sexual assault against inmates has become common, and often correctional officers are the culprits. Records show that a lot of the complaints filed by inmates never reach the police, hence, the attempt to get the exact number of rape victims in prison is a nightmare.

Considering the case of 45-year-old DeEtta Williams who was continuously sexually assaulted by a prison guard for 6 months, gives us a horrific picture of life in the prisons. She was abused by one Officer Michael Ewell, who is known to have lengthy records of sexually abusing women.

Moreover, the surprising thing; it became known in the lawsuit that the CDC was fully aware of Ewell’s history of sexually assaulting women. Regardless, they made him supervise a female prison, giving him the chance to carry out his shameful acts on the poor inmates.

Currently, Williams requires daily medication in order to cope with anxiety and panic attacks resulting from sexual abuse. She said, “I still have nightmares and panic attacks. I take medicine twice a day for my anxiety and my post-traumatic stress. I don’t know if it will ever get easier.”

Another abuse of rights shamelessly displayed in the prison can be seen in an event which took place on September 19, 2015. The video that surfaced recently shows how inmate Susie Chavez was inhumanely tortured for having posters in her cell. After she was tased, she started crying in agony, which rather prompted officers to torture her further in an attempt to keep her quiet. Authorities have defended this by saying that the officers broke no laws. It is an obvious fact that the laws detailing the enforcement of force in prison are especially vague.

Obviously, inmates in prison cannot fight for their rights, as the system in place has robbed them of any which they might have had. In many of these cases, prison wardens are aware, and often condone the inhumane treatment of inmates, making life in prison exceptionally unbearable.

Are the laws governing the conduct of correctional officers intentionally vague? Is the government’s reluctance to deal with the problem tacit approval? Given how much our country spends on prisons, things like these should not happen. We urge the government to find ways to rectify this growing scourge. We recommend there be more strict laws governing the conduct of correctional officers, and stricter punishment for those who break these laws.

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