Let’s Go To Prison

Every year, over 90,000 women are raped in the United States.

If you’re an activist (or spend much time around activists), you might know this already. You might even talk about it, argue about why it happens, the effect it has on people, how to stop it.

What is less well-known is that every year, over 140,000 men are raped in the United States.

No one talks about it because it happens inside of prisons. No one cares about it because it happens to prisoners. On the inside, guards use rape (both implied and actual) as a form of prisoner control. On the outside, people joke about it. Worse even, they see it as a form of punishment prisoners should endure, even though rape inside of a prison is an order of magnitude more likely to transmit a disease than rape outside of one.

This is what 140,000 people looks like:


Generations from now, our treatment of criminals will be looked at with the same disgust and horror that slavery is viewed with today, and our society will rightly be condemned as cruel and barbaric for it.

102 thoughts on “Let’s Go To Prison

  1. I always think like that. So glad you made this post.

    When I see people happy that some thief will had he’s “deserved punishment” at the prison I wonder how we can act like that’s normal, how society could still believe in it’s own sanity.

    Alas, nice photo analogy.

  2. Very true! It’s horrible that people still believe in retributive justice! Doesn’t creating more pain just equal more needless violence? Shouldn’t retributive justice be in lost opportunities rather than creating new tragedy? Don’t we know that we SUPPORT RAPE if we allow these prisoners to be abused, in direct contradiction of our Constitution which calls for no “Cruel or Unusual Punishment”?

    Thanks for a wonderful post!

  3. Although I most definitely do not support rape in any way shape or form I do think that you’re completely missing the fact that people shouldn’t be going to prison…at all…that’s a good enough reason for me to feel a lot less sympathetic toward these people…even though they may not deserve to be raped I’m sure they were well aware of the repercussions of whatever it was that they did to get them into prison in the first place…that’s why it’s easy for us to just turn the other cheek

  4. Really? People are going to look at criminals raping other criminals in the same way as whites oppressing blacks on a massive scale? What the hell?

  5. Easy for you to say “they shouldn’t be going to prison” but for people who’ve only ever known violence and crime and theres nothing else in the picture it’s a totally different story, you obviously have no idea what it’s like on the flipside away from your nice house and money. It sickens me that rape has become a thing to laugh and joke about, you see it everywhere take the show Family Guy that has references to rape in all the time, its medias fault rape is becoming a joke and future generations will indeed look at us as under developed brainwashed, selfish fools.

  6. Seems as though some of you still believe in the criminal justice system as being fair, unbiased and for justice. Pity you don’t know what it truly is. Just because someone was convicted of a crime does not mean they were guilty of it. I’ve seen time and time again people convicted of things they did not do because they didn’t have the money for a decent lawyer, they were in the wrong place at the wrong time or just didn’t have the resources someone else did. 200 people on death row have been released in the past decade because DNA evidence proved they didn’t do the crime…….how many more are in the prisons who are innocent and how long will they be there before proof is found for them – if ever. It’s nice that in your fairy tale world people are innocent til proven guilt and justice prevails, but it doesn’t work that way in reality. Does a man sentenced to 7 years in prison for possession of ONE joint deserved to be sodomized ?! What crime do you think one would deserve such treatment? Prison IS the punishment for a crime – being raped is NOT. Perhaps it should be one for being ignorant?

  7. are you lot crazy? what do you think we should do with the criminals then? the reason the men are all being raped in prison is probably because the rapists are all in there which means they arent attacking INNOCENT members of the public. Maybe you should wait till someone rapes and kills someone you love then decide what your opinion on this matter is. Or maybe you just feel they should be REHABILITATED?

  8. I suspect most of you live well away from poverty and crime ridden areas. The less well off have the right to live peacefully and without the threat posed by those who ignore the law. I would consider that right more important than the rights of prisoners. Middle class moralising about prisoners rights is not about really improving anybody else’s lot, it just allows those involved to avoid the real issues. If you want a real cause, push for reform of the legal system so that at least the innocent don’t end up in prison. Decriminalise drugs, this will reduce the prison population massively, before you consider any of the other benefits.

  9. PaEgLo and jules, it’s very simple: if rape is wrong, it’s wrong even if it happens to people you don’t like.

    I’d be happy to get into a discussion about the larger problems with the criminal justice system later, but it doesn’t actually matter if every single person who gets raped is The Worst Criminal In The World, or if they’re all wrongfully convicted upstanding citizens. Rape is not okay. Prison guards using rape as a way to control the population is not okay. Dying of AIDS because you have the poor fortune to be put in a prison cell with an HIV+ rapist is not okay.

    John, you don’t have to choose between legal reform and improving the situations of prisoners. You can do both.

  10. Rape is wrong no matter who the victim is. However an emotional response is not the answer, a well thought out and properly prioritised response would be much better. By tackling other bigger problems first this will become much less of a problem.

  11. Jairus said it best, in my opinion.

    Rape is wrong no matter if it’s happening to the perceived good guy or the perceived bad guy. It’s an unacceptable treatment of another human being.

  12. John, reducing the prison population will not change the prison culture. The problems with western criminal justice don’t stem from a single root cause, and I think that we can address more than one issue at once. I’m very much for drug decriminalization and changes to sentencing laws, but the battle against politicians who want to be “tough on crime” is a much more difficult battle to fight in the public eye than a human rights and public heath issue is.

    I don’t think you need to choose between trying to fight the causes of poverty and volunteering at a food bank, either.

  13. I have always agreed with these thoughts. Rape in prisons is disgusting and uncalled for. Most prisons are populated with non-violent criminals who won’t spend more than ten years behind bars. They are human beings. They have families, people who love them, and dreams of their own. They are subjected to horror and pain, while the “justice system” who decided it was “just” to put that criminal behind bars looks the other way and does nothing to stop the criminal acts that go on in prisons. The court system in this country is corrupt and inefficient. There are too many cases being slammed on too few judges, so Joe-Shmoe who grew a marijuana plant in his basement is going to be looking at 2 years in prison– and a lifetime of trauma. The people of this country need to rally together and fix our crooked justice system. “we the people”

  14. Jairus, I am pretty much in agreement with you about the issues, I’m just not sure whether attempting to fight all the battles at once will be very successful. I’d like to hear more about how you see things, I am open to new ideas and reasoned debate on these important issues can only help.

  15. In the light of the many revelations concerning this nation’s wanton cruelty and stupid barbarity, at home and overseas, one has to ask the question: Do we deserve to continue as a society? Rape, particularly prison rape, is a big joke in the U.S. History will not be laughing. We should be ashamed.

  16. Yo, I just stumbled this. Funny, because I was just it on your Facebook page. Ha.

    Anyway, I meant to say I was totally on the same side, and that anyone, no matter what the crime, doesn’t deserve that. I think the way I phrased it made it seem like I only gave a shit about the peeps who are in for stupid shit that shouldn’t be a crime.

  17. Let’s face it — our prisons are filled with some pretty bad-ass people, and I’m glad most of them are not my neighbors. But I have worked in the criminal justice system for almost 30 years, in the public defender field, with those charged with both state and federal crimes; and although there may be no typical convict, those most likely to be convicted and imprisoned are disproportionately poor, mentally ill, addicted, impoverished, under-educated, and/or socially unskilled. It’s true that most people who go to prison are, indeed, guilty of a crime. Some of them are dangerous, violent and soulless re-offenders, for whom prison has never worked and never will. But as a civilized nation, we should be able to figure out a way to house offenders without degrading and violating them. It IS possible to imprison someone humanely if that goal is a priority. But the prison industry is an industry like any other, and it profits by housing the most people for the least amount of money. It’s simply naive to think you can warehouse people under horrific conditions and then expect them to re-enter society without bitterness, anger, despair and vengefulness. Research proves repeatedly that longer prison sentences do not deter crime. The death penalty has not deterred aggravated murder. The American prison system allows for a subculture to thrive within the prison population which is based on intimidation, allegiance, manipulation and violence. In essence, it results in a meaner more vengeful prisoner who will eventually be back on this side of the wall. We are our brother’s keeper, and humans are not disposable, even when that human has done the unthinkable. The goal of imprisonment is to remove the prisoner from free society and by doing so takes from him certain citizen’s rights and privileges. Punishing with an eye-for-an-eye mentality assumes fairness and equity where it doesn’t actually exist. Plus, it has never worked as a deterrent to continued violence and crime. We can do better and we must. A society that condones violence and intimidation is not a free society.

  18. Jairus, yous said:

    “PaEgLo and jules, it’s very simple: if rape is wrong, it’s wrong even if it happens to people you don’t like.”

    But if murder or holding someone against their will is wrong, its still wrong if it happens to people you don’t like.

    By that understanding, we can’t punish anyone with prison or the death penalty. You may think about re-wording that argument.

    Rape is ultimately a crime to control/master someone else. Prison is the state or federal government enacting control over a person. A side effect of that are people in prison taking ‘control’ of their lives by controlling others via rape. It’s human sin, and it has happened since the beginning.

  19. “But if murder or holding someone against their will is wrong, its still wrong if it happens to people you don’t like.

    By that understanding, we can’t punish anyone with prison or the death penalty.”

    Now we’re getting somewhere.

  20. I’ve been locked up many, many times. Almost countless times. and my crimes were “victimless” in the sense that nobody else got hurt. I’m an alcoholic, which I freely admit to anyone who asks me. But I am not in any way a violent criminal. However I have been to jail over thirty times. Over thirty times for what is publicly admitted to be a medical condition. There is no other medical condition besides addiction that has legal consequences in the USA. (minus mental illness, which is a whole different problem. Or possibly a very similar one) I realize that my addiction could, if unchecked and untreated, lead to one or several deaths. Including my own. I do not deny this. However, I am not a violent criminal, and my crimes have never seriously hurt anyone.

    What I would ask people to think about is that, if sent to prison, (which is the next legal step in my process, two years) I would most likely be raped or killed. If raped, I could contract AIDS, HERPES, or any of the many rampant STD’s available in the penal system, not counting the irreparable psychological damage. Does this sound like a fair punishment for a man who was born with an illness that is treatable? Would you sentence a man selling marijuana to death? Would you sentence a man too poor to pay alimony to be raped night after night for years on end? Unfortunately our current system has no differentiation between the harmless “offenders”, and the violent criminals, and in the end, the people in our society like myself who need a system of support and treatment to become good citizens, instead are thrust into a nightmare worse than any you have ever had, and forced to fight day and night for their own lives, forging them into enemies of the state like they were originally accused of being.

    I am lucky to have found support. Very few are like me. Our nation is taking a huge number of good men and women and turning them into criminals because the crooked and narrow minded douche-bags in Washington see no other options. Let me tell you, there are options out there. We have a vast and untapped resource of desperate humans, eager to fix their lives, eager to learn, and we waste them. I ask everyone wh0 reads this page to reconsider their view on our corrections program, and send out an opinion to Washington for change, so that the fellow Americans we have locked up can have a chance to redeem themselves. Because if our nation is not a nation of opportunity and change, then what real hope can we offer our people or the world?

  21. Thank you very much for this post – having lived in both wealthy and poverty-stricken communities, I can vouch for the differences in attitude toward prison rape. It seems to me that the American prison system is a one-way street. We send most criminals to prison to do anything BUT serve time for their crime. People enter the system and are forever changed by it – very few people who do hard time can resume normal lives when they exit prison. At the moment of conviction, they become non-people. How can anyone come out of prison in better shape than when they went in?

    Acknowledging and addressing prison rape is a step toward recognizing that prisoners ARE citizens of this country – despite your bile and venom toward them, they retain the right to serve their sentence in peace so that when they finally leave, they can become for the community what they couldn’t be before.

  22. ” John, reducing the prison population will not change the prison culture. ”

    But it would save thousands of people who commit victimless crimes the agony of rotting in these hellholes.

    Thus removing thousands of potential rape victims…

  23. “people shouldn’t be going to prison…at all…that’s a good enough reason for me to feel a lot less sympathetic toward these people…even though they may not deserve to be raped I’m sure they were well aware of the repercussions of whatever it was that they did to get them into prison in the first place…”

    Hey… so… “If you didn’t want to get raped you shouldn’t have gone to that place” is an okay thing to say now? “These people” are just “people”, and the whole idea of human rights are that they apply to everyone on the basis of being human, not on the basis of citizenship or lack of criminal record.

    “that’s why it’s easy for us to just turn the other cheek”.

    I think maybe you think that “turn the other cheek” means something different here, like maybe “turn a blind eye”? But turning the other cheek may be a better suggestion in the case of a lot of convictions anyways.

    That being said, I don’t really think this issue needs to be framed or introduced in this confrontational way about “women being raped” versus “prison rapes”. For one, women are raped in prison a lot, as well, and sexually assaulted by cops and guards all the time.
    As well, if you want to work in those gender binaries you’re eventually going to get this answer: all these rapes we’re talking about are overwhelmingly committed by men. Therefore I think that this whole “no one talkes about it” thing is a little too blame-y. Only men can stop (most) rape, and when anti-rape advocate groups are fighting to end male violence the end result is good for not just women but men and boys t oo, both directly and indirectly.

  24. Elimination of the ridiculous war on drugs would in my opinion be a great start on reducing the prison population.

  25. Thanatos

    im curious what you do for a living. you say you have SEEN many people go to jail for crimes they have not committed.

    well, lets say 300 people go to jail who are innocent every ten years. im not sure how many go to jail each year that are guilty, but trust me, its a hell of a lot more than 300. out of those 300 one or two get raped in jail. life maybe isn’t fair sometimes. we all get things we dont deserve, but to let thousands of guilty killers and rapists go, because one or two innocent people got raped in jail is ridiculous. innocent people get raped out here every day, if anything, you have a better chance of NOT getting raped in jail than you do in public.

  26. If it is true, that the American way is not perfect, then why do we do such flag-waving for it? Why do we try to shove it down other countries throats as the “only , and right , way? Why is it so hard for Americans to admit wrong? Why is it so hard for Americans to change their ways? How can we progress by hanging on blindly to our “Status Quo” and declaring it as perfect, even when we suffer its flaws? Have we stalled as a great innovator nation on the 1960’s image we have of ourselves, locked onto this notion, and will we in the 21st Century, drive off into the sunset on Harley Davidson’s, wearing cowboy hats and listening the Elvis, a third-world like, Chinese protectorate, part of their rapidly adaptable Empire? Are we there already? The certainly hold financial power over Obama, and own more of our own money than we do!

  27. Prison rape is incredibly uncommon. Your statistic of 140,000 is incorrect, i am not positive if you read the study you cited but it’s methodology is questionable at best. It only interviewed 200 people who had been raped in prison; that is skewed and biased. To quote the study itself, “The prisoners who collaborated in our efforts were thus a largely self-selected group, not a random sampling.”

    Furthermore, the studies he actually cites in the report show a much lower incidence of actual prison rape. And, the study ignores the actual facts of the matter, which are that most prisoners that have sex in prison ARE NOT RAPED. They are submitting in return for protection (not just from rape). This would explain why, as he says in the study, guards and prisoners have differing numbers when asked about prison rape (with guards having higher numbers).

    Finally, the number that you actually glean from the report is not the only number in the report. As is all too common with studies like these, the study says things that do not reflect the actual findings. He ignores studies that he, himself, talks about in the report that contradict his numbers. Indeed, the studies he does cite are problematically nonrandom at best.

    Indeed, a study with better methadology that was done and released 3 years after HRW’s shows a rape incidence of 1.91% with a 95% confidence interval between 1.37% – 2.46%. Additionally, this study measured lifetime prevalence (how likely it is that any single prison is going to get raped ever) as opposed to attack prevalence. HRW does not make clear what it is actually measuring with it’s rather nebulous stat of 140000.

    A more accurate number, therefore, would be around 43000, or 2% of the prison population of 2 000 000 people. (This is the study that HRW, in it’s recommendations, asked be preformed.)

    Sure, this is bad. However it is not nearly as bad as you make it sound. But, you don’t provide a solution. The solutions that HRW provides are laughable at best and show that they do not understand the actual problems involved with the prison and with prison culture. They say that the rape laws need to be better enforced in prison. Why will that actually stop these people from doing what they are doing already? People kill each other in prison, why will they not continue to rape each other? This is not merely a simple problem, HRW, it is a problem of culture and conditioning.

    In order to stop this from happening, one would need to actually change prison culture. (Considering how ingrained it is at this point, that will require generations — when you say we will be seen as barbaric.)

    Changing prison culture is much harder than just saying it, it would require stripping the prisoners of more rights and forcing them to change. While this is not only illegal, it is also immoral and something that HRW probably would not support.

    Rape is a problem, but it is not the most pressing problem of the prison system and as both you and HRW seem to ignore, it is actually more symptomatic of a problem of culture. Not just a problem with the prisoners themselves, but with the guards and with society in general. We are a society that does believe in retributive justice, in the fact that jails are not supposed to be nice places. Indeed, the four tenants of the justice system are retribution, rehabilitation, incapacitation and deterrence. While rape is bad, it is very hard to stop without making prison a place that more people would fine preferable to their everyday lives, and would attempt to go there (this is actually a problem currently, people go to prison because it is better than where they are).

    So, I challenge you to create a prison system where all of the four tenants are fulfilled and where there is no prison rape. (Perhaps a Turkish style multilevel prison system would work better, as there would be less overflow of culture down the food chain…)

    Paul: Retribution is commonly misunderstood to mean retribution for harming a person, it is actually retribution for breaking the rules of society. Why should a person not be punished for breaking the laws? Don’t we want to make breaking the laws nonpreferable? I think that, if you think we don’t have to punish people, then you have a false idea of the goodness of human nature.

  28. Criminals CHOOSE their destiny. Men CHOOSE to rape. Throughout society men refuse to take responsibility for their own base desires…original sin is BLAMED on woman (Adam & Eve)…head coverings/berkas are to control women from beguiling men…when the answer to all is controlling mens sexual desire. Men need to learn to control themselves & their own desires. Prisons should use HORMONE THERAPY to reduce sexual desire…hormone therapy has always been acceptable medical treatment for women, so why not men???? As a female, I am sick & tired of whiney criminals wanting safety in the slammer, but not wanting safety bad enough to change THEIR own behavior! LET’S BLAME SOMEONE ELSE for the trouble we get into! Personal responsibility goes a long way….rape outside of prison is a crime…rape inside prison is a condition one can control by staying out of prison. AND…alcoholism is NOT a medical condition that cannot be controlled by the patient! DUH! Grow up…get smart…take control of your own destiny!

  29. Gosh, it’s a rare topic of contention where the stink-lines of stupidity waft so heavily from the regressive arguments that it’s all but impossible to even engage them in good faith as arguments at all.

    PaEglo, Jules, John, Ericfromthemichiganrun, Zada… you are all so far from presenting cogent viewpoints that it would actually be UNFAIR to address your perspectives. That dude Greg made you all look foolish and by rights, he should have had the WORST point in the whole comment thread.

    I hope you’re proud of yourselves!

  30. To be honest if you look at the number of prisoners versus the reported rape number it is extremely low, only 6.05%. In no way is this justifiable, but with family that works in the prison system, in no way is the entire system, as you say, so deplorable that “Generations from now, our treatment of criminals will be looked at with the same disgust and horror that slavery is viewed with today, and our society will rightly be condemned as cruel and barbaric for it.”

    Also, from what part of the jail system to these reported rapes come from? County, City, State, or Federal? You’re leaving out quite a few details here. Since most of the prisoners serve time in County jail (for crimes under 2 years) it would be interesting to see where your numbers come from. Only 1,540,805 prisoners serve in the Federal jail system. The rest serve in state or local jails. So please, do not go blaming the entire American population. Go blame the county Sheriff that YOU( YOU!) voted for or city council member you elected into office. (It all goes back to the local populace). Or the Sheriff’s union bond measure you approved.

  31. Are we really tackling a topic so huge it can’t be dealt with? Prison Rape? It is rape, and they are in prison. I often wish the prison system could be overhauled. Wiped clean. Start the population at zero again. There is only one way to do that without letting them all go. I will let you all think on that. Besides, if you had no idea when this cleansing would take place, there would be a hell of a lot less people using prison as their way of life. Fascism might have not entirely worked, but at least no one wants to go to a fascist or communist prison.

  32. To the posters here who think all prisoners are truly guilty, you need a reality check. Many are mentally ill, and others are guilty of nothing more than using pot, (as at least two of our recent presidents have admitted doing). I’m guessing that it is the least violent, and youngest who are the first victims. We are all culpable when we turn our heads and pretend not to know or just don’t care.

  33. I think they deserve everything they have coming to them. I have no pity and disgusted that you compare this to hundreds of years of slavery. You are an over dramatic person. Get over it. If all they grew up around violence and commit violent acts they are weak minded. No everyone with a violent past goes to prison, that is just a weak excuse for those that end up there. I fully support the 3 strikes program and the death penalty and I sleep soundly at night.

  34. koff…all fine and dandy to push for change and human rights but unfortunately until men control their animal behaviour nothing will change! Just look at our disgusting human history! Controlled and manipulated by men. Don’t get me wrong, there are decent men…to you I say, thanks for having the balls to stand up to the monsters of your kind.

  35. if one person is raped in prison, it is too many. people who go to prison, let’s say: for stealing food because they are poor/homeless, another for smoking pot, another for not paying taxes, another for victimless drunken behavior and so on, do not deserve to be mistreated. by mistreated i mean abused. be it psychological, emotional, physical or mental.

    we have become a culture of the expedient. if it’s quick, easy and cheap- fine! the american people are too busy to be bothered with our impact on the environment, an unjust penal system, poverty, lack of education, soaring health costs, our addiction to fossil fuels- and so many more issues that take us from our comfortable little lives.

    i fear that it will take something more catastrophic than 9-11 to get our attention. but will it be too late?

  36. Wonderful post. I feel prisons are in need of some serious reformations or maybe we should even consider a serious alternative. Seems they do more bad than good.

  37. Just a note – that picture you used to show an example of 140,000 people was the Obama rally in St. Louis under the arch late in the campaign last year…and there were actually only 100k there. I know because I was there. I’m somewhere near the reddish tree on the middle/right-side. Couldn’t see shit. :P

  38. Great post, but what do you want us to do about it? It’s one thing to bring up an idea/point, but it’s kind of pointless if you don’t have suggestions and solutions. I would like to see a follow up post showing what you have done to stop rape in prisons or at the very least reduce it.

  39. Barb,
    “koff…all fine and dandy to push for change and human rights but unfortunately until men control their animal behaviour (sic) nothing will change! Just look at our disgusting human history! Controlled and manipulated by men. Don’t get me wrong, there are decent men…to you I say, thanks for having the balls to stand up to the monsters of your kind.”

    Really? It is all the fault of men? And only Decent men exist? The problem here is is that I cannot critique you because then I am a sexist. I find what you type to be offensive and extremely sexist in your sweeping generalization of my gender.

    Specific examples? Have you ever watched a real trial or read about the crimes that many of these people commit?

    What would you have us do with murders then? A slap on the wrist? Reform is clearly something that should be in place and that is why the parole system works for prisoners. Most persons found with drug possession are out on parole in a few days or weeks (except cocaine which has federal regulations). It all again depends on your locality and not “The people in Washington.” Since against only 1,300,000 (roughly) serve in the federal system. It all comes down to your county elections and city council resolutions that no doubt few of you even bother to research or look up since it isn’t on CNN, FOX, MSNBC, or the other networks.

  40. i have been thru it, and it should never happen to anyone ever. i would not even wish it on the man who did it to me. it makes a part of you die.

  41. Almost anything can be considered rape. I considered forced psychiatric drugging to be rape, thus I’ve been raped a countless number of times.

    Why do people always just associate rape with women and sex?

  42. Almost anything can be considered rape if it takes from a person their sense of personal worth and power. I considered forced psychiatric drugging to be rape, thus I’ve been raped a countless number of times.

    Why do people always just associate rape with women and sex?

  43. The whole “corrections” system is a mess. Not only are they raped while in prison, but once they get out they are again victims. They are let out with $200 gate money, dropped back in the town where their crime was committed, often with no support of family or friends and told to get an address within a week or they will be in violation of parole and be sent back. How successful would you be in this situation? The whole system is set up for failure, not rehabilitation.

  44. i think your all missing the point. rape is wrong no matter what.period. the prison system not only in the US but here in England is ineffective. if we really want real change we must question societies attitude towards rape of all kinds. very often when a person is raped we face the ‘she/he was asking for it’ responce. this barbaric opinion should be questioned and the harrowing results of rape should be shown. in countries such as belgium and denmark the reoffending rate for criminals is almost unmarkedly low and prisons are safe. mayvbe we should swallow our pride at being ‘superpowers’ and take a leaf out of their book.

  45. ” “But if murder or holding someone against their will is wrong, its still wrong if it happens to people you don’t like.

    By that understanding, we can’t punish anyone with prison or the death penalty.”

    Now we’re getting somewhere”

    oh my god…thank you….

  46. and ill like to add that rape is never nessary iv got the good part od 5 or 6 friends who have been raped and not all of them are nice people but according to half of you its right if it happends to bad people

  47. First and fore most one cannot even compare the enslavement of generations and generations of people due to the color of their skin to someone being raped in prison in modern society. Prisoners in other countries have much less dignity and privileges as prisoners in the united states, so to compare prison in the us, now or in the past, to the abomination known as slavery is an insult to any culture that had to endure slavery. Secondly Prisoners in the united states are the most spoiled prisoners in the world. So to say that future generations will look back and say the system was “barbaric” is a drastic over statement. Prisoners in asia cuba, and other developing lands would be raped to be in a united states prison where they are fed 3 meals a day, allowed recreational activity(in some prisons) and allowed to have an occupation that makes money, and to gain money in any prison is a tremendous privilege. But what most concerned me is the slavery comparison, the author of this work definitely needed to find a better comparison measure than slavery. thanks

  48. I was 18 years old, white, and 145 lbs when I went to prison. I was living on the streets and had been for almost a year. One night, around three am i could no longer stand the gnawing in my stomach and opened the door of an unlocked car in order to steal the change out of the inside handle. Unfortunately the owner saw me, i still don’t know how, and he rushed and tackled me and held me until the police arrived. I spent the next three years in hell. I could not even begin to tell you the physical and psychological torture I went through every single day for those three years. When ever I hear ppl speak of the just punishment of “criminals” all i can do is shake my head, because it is not possible to convey unless you have been there. For some it is possible to turn yourself into a monster in order to survive, for others it is not. I will never shake the nightmares. I suppose i deserve it for trying to take off with that buck fifty in change.

  49. actually, in case none of you have noticed, probably the worst problem in the world today is the excessive greed of the wealthy (the wealthy i’m talking about here would be anyone who can afford a computer and a car), and the excessive population growth. In the future, if growth continues as it does, the future leaders will wonder why we didn’t simply neuter or kill all of the prisoners. as sad as it sounds, the earth will be much too populated to sustain a “civilized” population. picture cities doubling in size in only a few decades, suburbias transforming into cities, rural areas sprouting into suburbias. only problem is that the future doesn’t have all of these resources. by the end of our lives, if major changes aren’t made, the world will be a hideous place, even more so than it already is. as much as i hate to say it, WE WILL ALL INEVITABLY PERISH. and that by the way, is the reason people made up religion, it’s depressing if you’ve got nothing to live for

  50. former inmate (or clever storyteller)
    if this planet continues to grow, the majority of the population will be starving the same way you were, also, why didn’t you have a job? if it’s because there were none, then this is another reason to bring up a modern day problem. UNEMPLOYMENT. nobody should be unemployed except people who are in school, and people who are retired with substantial funds. unfortunately, there are hundreds of thousands of people who simply can’t get jobs. so what do we humans do? make more humans who won’t be able to get jobs either. its pitiful really

  51. news flash, prison isn’t a fucking mental hospital for the rehabilitation of criminals, it’s fucking PRISON. prison’s main purpose nowadays is to keep criminals off the street so that normal every day life can be had by all of us “productive” and greedy members of “civilized” society

  52. Great and thought provoking post. Thanks. May I share some of my humble thoughts?

    Throughout history larger units of governance like nation states and empires have always opted for “eye for an eye” type of punishment as deterrent system. The USA is an empire like ancient Assyria or Persia. The empire building stage is always filled with so much wanton violence. Does imperial pomp and glory ever heal the open stigmata in the soul of the nation? Does the arrogant bearing of a proud and conquering empire empower all the people?
    From history we know that this does not happen yet empires are created again and again.

    In Scandinavia, where the prison system aims at rehabilitation, we do see, every now and then, hardened criminals being let out and promptly committing violent crimes immediately. Is it because the hardened criminal knows no other way to get attention, no other way to function.

    Would a society like the USA, which is seen worldwide as a champion of human rights and is also a self appointed world police, be ready to accept that it is worth having “criminals” try to reintegrate yet fail repeatedly and resort to crimes rather than convict innocent people or punish them by harsh prison sentences as retribution. Prisons are said to be excellent universities, the longer you are there, the more you learn about crime and the dark side of life.

  53. THANK YOU! I Stumbled onto this article and am so glad. Literally, just yesterday my father was sentenced to 56 years in prison for raping, sodomizing and molesting my niece many times during a span of about 2 years. He did the same thing to me for at least 10 years when I was growing up. Plenty of people have said things like “At least he’ll get what he deserves in prison.” He may not deserve freedom because he can’t keep his hands off of young girls, but the last thing he or any other offender needs is to be brutalized themselves. I can tell you for sure that it will only make my father bitter and angry. It will not help him, will not teach him a lesson. And it could kill him. He has to pay for what he did and I’m so glad he will be now, but being assaulted himself will not make things better for any of us.

  54. OMG, I’m a little depressed that ‘Restorative Justice’ hasn’t been mentioned ONCE in this whole comment thread. That’s the answer peoples. (one more time) RESTORATIVE JUSTICE.

    My mother coordinates a RJ program in Ottawa, Canada. It’s goal is to help sex offenders re-integrate to society in the hope that they will not re-offend. IT REDUCES RECIDIVISM BY 80%!!! By decreasing the number of victims you break the chain of abuse that has been carried on throughout humanity’s history.

    The solution is to show these people LOVE, not hate, like some of these cyber-barbarians seems to think.

    Conservative estimate 80% of drug addicts and sex offenders were at some point in their lives abused, molested, had their character relentlessly assassinated and other forms of hatred that I’m ALMOST certain Zada has never experienced.

    *Finally* to the people who contest that “our society will rightly be condemned as cruel and barbaric for it.”.
    Consider this fact: American jails hold 1/4 of Earth’s inmates even though it claims to be the land of the free. EL EM AYE OH !!!

    But seriously, for all the people who want a solution, you can start by googling restorative justice. (Native Americans Pioneered it…go figure)

  55. Thomas, I think restorative justice is the answer to a lot of the problems with our current system, and I agree that anyone who isn’t familiar with it should take a few minutes to look into it.

    I’m also in Ottawa — it’s great that there’s work being done locally on it. Tell your mother she’s amazing.

  56. Did you know that guards will sell a con into sexual slavery for some candy and a pair of shoes? He was beaten, and threatened with death, and raped over and over and over, days- weeks on end. For some candy and cheap sneakers. Because he fucked with a guard.

    Did you know that “David Copperfield” is a coveted position in every prison gang, that they all have “Davids” in the joint and out on the street because David Copperfield can make people disappear?

    Prison is an unknowable dichotomy. You have people like me, and the Texas bathroom-writer who have been to prison, and our experiences are tame, mild. So it tames the reality of the prison experience for more well-to-do (white) people. Those who were gang-raped, or tortured by guards, do not have a voice in places like this. Eyeshitinyourcereal, while repugnant to many of you (and even me at times), at least comes to a place like this. Those who engage in such pastimes as shooting inmates for sport (and this does happen) or selling cons for a candy bars into the unimaginable horror of being sexual chattel will never come here. Every time a white man like me comes and talks about trivial things and who didn’t get raped can minimize those who did. Even when someone like me who has held the hand of a survivor, or held him close to me in that tightest of embraces which only a brother can give; and then tells their story which they cannot themselves tell, the impact is lost. There is much that a guy can bear, much that he can hold inside because he can’t tell a guy with a badge. But it is never the all, and they all have it all. People like me do what we can but we are not trained, or educated. Guys talk to guys like me because they cannot talk to guys with badges, whether they be proudly displayed on a uniform or in a drawer behind all the polo shirts and pressed khaki’s.

    Yes these are criminal men, and violent men, and bad men. But there is a spark of good in almost everyone. The drugs and the lifestyle have a hold on them which is hard to understand, and those who have fought that monster are best able to help them fight it. It is not rational, and will never make sense to those out in the World, they who made the right decision and did not become an inmate- the worst kind of Other we have yet devised.

    There is no way to explain it to those who have not had contact with the system- the Machine. But there is a reason these men chose how they did, and their children, Mothers, and wives are no less important as a result of those choices. The Machine took them, and ate them, and they might have deserved it or they might not- but the issue is not whether they deserve or not. It is only that It has them, and they are at the complete mercy of Its appetite.

    This is a politics-joke forum on a website based on jokes but I’m really asking you- I’m really asking you with real-life tears in my real fucking eyes- to fight this, to end it. It’s about getting involved in local and state politics, it’s about doing it and doing it well to where they can’t fuck with it. Even in this joke place I see all this talent and intellect which humbles me, and there is only so much I can do. I stuff my envelopes and go to my NA/rape survivor meetings, and contribute to the Directory, one guy at a time you know. I don’t want your money, or your time. Just vote locally or something, and get a friend to do so. If you have psych background then go and help these guys because there are so many of them and people like us have a hard time figuring out what to do.

    If you can’t then it’s all good but if you can just do… something. Please, we’re dying.


  57. ““I remember after he left, the sun was rising, I was standing there in total shock. My body and my mind was numb. I didn’t know what to do, so I just sat down on the commode and let what they ejaculated in me come out. After everything was out, I cleaned myself again. As I got up, I noticed the water in the commode was red. I washed myself again, put on all my clothes, got under the covers. The fear went on a rampage in my mind, shutting down my whole system. For the rest of the day I was like this. I do remember wanting to kill them or either myself . . . . I cannot fully state to you now the actual feelings of guilt or shame I felt at the time. In retrospect, I feel now that there was more I could have done and my mindset now is one of tremendous speculation. But, it all comes down to feelings of being inadequate in the defense of myself.”
    —R.D, Virginia, 9/16/96”

  58. Hundreds of thousands of times each year this same drama is repeated- and many in prison are not even guilty.

    It can happen to any one of you.

    Look at the Duke Lacrosse case- they were richer and whiter than any of you, and they barely escaped prison.

    Prison is just around the corner for all of us; because the Machine cares not what It eats, only that It must feed.

  59. The punishment is going to prison…..it doesn’t need to get any worse than this. I had no idea of these figures, thank you for posting

  60. If they’re prisoners, the bastards deserve it. They forfeited their rights when they chose to rape, murder or steal.

  61. The thing about rights is you can’t forfeit them. They’re not privileges. They’re rights. All humans have human rights, even if we don’t like them.

  62. I am currently a going to school to get my Bachelor degree in Criminal Justice. I agree with a lot that is being said. Much of our prison system has been corrupted a long time and most of it has been due to the so called “was on drugs”. Reform needs to be done, but like what was said earlier politicians will not be easily persuaded to change laws because the of their constituents will not vote for them again. The mass media has also played a large role in the this be keeping people paranoid about all these heinous crime waves. Most of which are extremely rare happenings. If you are to be rapes or murdered its more than likely going to be a friend, neighbor, significant other, or an acquaintance. But most people believe its the stranger lurking in the alley or hiding in the bushes.

  63. About the originally topic about.. Guards using rape as punishment. Its is almost nearly impossible to prove. But you are right it happens a lot. Most turn the other way because prisoners are not seen as people. Also their is such a huge stigma on male rape. Most people just don’t believe that men can be raped. So fear, shame, and guilt about not stopping the attack keep men from coming forward. Here’s the big question and all of us in the Criminal Justice field ask ourselves this all the time is prison really a deterrent? Not really. The recidivism rate among parolees is more than half. So if prison solved problems why are more than half of our criminals going back after they return to society. Some more than once.

  64. You mean that Prison is not a nice place to be? You mean that maybe you should not committ violent crimes in society? Maybe prisons should be a place of punishment and confinement. They should be worked hard 7 days a week till they serve their full time. No time off ever. No TV. No gym. They should work to do things for all citizens. Like work in parks, cutting lawns, painting community buildings. We coddle these prisoners way too much.

  65. I’m reading many of these comments and I see many threads I agree with (with the exception of the last two ridiculous and ignorant ones.)

    However, I feel like there is a huge component lacking here. I don’t feign to offer immediate alternatives but I do not think that prison reform alone can solve this problem. I do not think that addressing concerns to legislators or appealing to the authorities that are mandated to uphold very many of the same institutions and practices are capable of change as is necessary right now. Think: the amount of women who are raped on military bases each year.

    I do not want to be accused of standing on a feminist soapbox- it isn’t about that (and I’m proud to call myself that,) although I think the study of violence against women offers some valuable insight and warrants attention as it affects 50% of the population (whether incarcerated or not.) Rape happens because of power and control. Men in prison are seemingly raped as a means of emasculation. I’ve even heard people say that the men who rape in prison are so desperate for sex that they do it to whoever they can find. These sentiments are not all completely accurate, but I think they get at the idea of how our gender roles create these dynamics and are harmful to both men and women.

    Basically: we raise our boys to fight and to not cry and then we wonder why they disproportionately commit violent crimes against other men (or women) which lands them in prison where they are either a perpetrator or survivor of rape, which has only been reinforced by the other persistent of manhood such as wielding your penis for a weapon.
    I’m not laying blame, just saying the responsibility lies in all of us to change it- culturally, how we speak, etc. Laws can only do so much. And besides- this appears to be the cheaper option, doesn’t it?

  66. Wow, some of you are so ignorant. My cousin, who is a SCHIZOPHRENIC because he was shot in the head when he was younger was raped while he was in prison. He is NOT a rapist, nor has he ever committed any crimes of violence. He has a problem with drug use. So yes, I think he should be REHABILITATED and not incarcerated. The whole system is fucked, and I can say that because I’ve seen what it does first hand. He didn’t deserve to be raped, he just didn’t have enough money to protect himself from those who attacked him. The guards are useless and sometimes contribute to the issue, rather than resolving it. So please, some of you get your head out of your asses.

  67. i love how u all take prison as something that should be. That it just needs to be fixed, but u accept that it should be there. Prison is solely to make people conform to the society the ruling class created. And it works. The percentage of the population in prison is small but it keeps the majority in line. They pay there mortgage and the interest on their debt. Prison in western civ comes from doing ur penance. You have sinned and u have to pay. I spent 4 years in federal prison and I was always amazed how noone cared that i was a slave (actualy i know why. everyoen has been indoctrinated thru public school and capitalist controlled forms of entertainment into believing a criminal is bad and should be punished) anyways i was a slave, in federal prison you have to work, if u refuse they will come and stick u into the hole and take away all privelges until u labor…so that is the definition of slavery “I was confined against my will and forced to labor” (u may believe that i belong there but it is not my choice of where to be.. i was tackled, shackled and shipped there) ….all ruling classes demonized the ones they enslaved with terms to keep the regular population from helping them. in my time is was criminal in years past it was barbarian, heathen..whatever u want but the situation is the same.,.confined against ur will and forced to labor..please forgive my grammar etc. i do not have a formal education. how i wish i had the tools to express myself and comunicate with the masses

  68. What a crock !

    This site is designed for only one reason, and that is for a bunch of lying inmates to try and convince people how terrible prison can be. The problem is that everything on here is a lie.

    I have working in a prison for 30 years, and the only problem that an inmate has while he is in prison is the other predatory inmates. The Correctional Officers don’t rape inmates, or anything else for that matter. The other inmates do. In other words, the inmates themselves create all of the prison problems. And nothing else.

    Prison is not like you see in the old movies, and has not been anywhere near that type of atmosphere for many many years. You people on here that are ignorant about the prison system should educate yourself before falling for this con job on here.

    Some of the prisons in our state have olympic sized swimming pools, 18 hole miniature golf, free college educations, and a hundred other perks that the people who committed these terrible crimes should never have during incarceration. The main problem with prison is that, instead of the inmates taking advantage of what is offered, they insist on continuing there life of crime while incarcerated. Being rehabilitated is a matter of choice, and most inmates choose to be the same anti-social predatory psychopath that they were before they arrived.

    In all reality, a man has to commit many felonies before he ends up in a penal facility. You probably couldn’t count the number of breaks given to a guy by the judges before he is finally sentenced to real time. Believe me, by the time a guy ends up in prison, he more than deserves what he got.

    You people can believe this hogwash if you want, but I know the real story about what prison is like, because I have spent more time in prisons than most inmates, and I know the real, true story.

    If we do have the occasional problem, it is because inmates caused it. Of course inmates do what they always do and blame someone else for all their problems, or just lie to family and friends about the “conditions” in order to get money, or whatever else they can get from outsiders and their own families.

    Do you inmates want prisons to change for the better? Then stop acting like your typical criminal, live and let live, take responsibility for your own actions and your own future, and take advantage of the many programs and services offered to you. It is your own prison mentality that holds you down, and nothing else.

    You can start your journey to productive citizenship by not lying to all of the people that visit this website.

  69. Prison is not like you see in the old movies, and has not been anywhere near that type of atmosphere for many many years.

    Wilson v. Deukmejian:

    The state court found that the conditions in the general population units at San Quentin were cruel and unusual punishment and issued an injunction to ensure that conditions improved.

    Plata v. Davis/Schwarzenegger:

    In October 2005, a federal judge issued Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, ordering that California’s prison medical care system be placed under the control of a court-appointed receiver. The court found that the system is “broken beyond repair,” causing an “unconscionable degree of suffering and death.” Among the shocking findings are that, on average, an inmate in one of California’s prisons needlessly dies every six to seven days due to grossly deficient medical care.

    The federal judge overseeing the Plata v. Schwarzenegger class action case issued an Order denying the State’s motion to terminate the appointment of the Receiver who is overseeing efforts to remedy unconstitutional medical care conditions in California’s prisons. The judge expressed a lack of confidence that the State would provide constitutionally-adequate medical care or maintain improvements made under the Receiver’s supervision. The judge also denied the state’s motion to terminate the Receiver’s plan to construct improved medical care facilities.

    Coleman v. Wilson:

    The court found that the entire mental health system operated by the California Department of Corrections was unconstitutional and that prison officials were deliberately indifferent to the needs of mentally ill inmates. All thirty-three institutions in the CDC are presently being monitored by a court-appointed special master to evaluate the CDC’s compliance with the Court’s order. The case is reported at 912 F.Supp. 1282 (E.D. Cal. 1995).

  70. Merci pour ce post, c’est important de souligner ces faits alors qu’ils sont banalisés , même en france il me semble…

    Thank you for this post, it is important to emphasize these facts as they are normalized, even in France it seems to me …
    (thx ggle translate for my answer)

  71. Let me guess….all you bleeding heart liberal minded people are willing to let these poor mistreated misunderstood criminals babysit your children or come and live in your homes……right?

  72. Your article is very to the point blank truth, most the public at large takes no time out to even care to try understanding. But with wording as you put it into.. who knows? they may try. I commend you, great work. Keep it up.

  73. While I think that rape is a despicable act, I’m a bit peeved by your prediction about rape in prisons being viewed as equal to Slavery. I can’t agree with this assumption. Criminals in a controlled environment acting out against other criminals in the same environment is nothing like slavery on a mass scale. Furthermore, people can sit here and say that the U.S. is barbaric and shouldn’t be allowed to be a society all they want, but take a look at the world. It’s a big place. Things are rough ALL OVER. The United States is not the only country capable of committing barbarous acts. In fact, there are several countries that regularly commit much more heinous acts against its common people.

    So please- don’t act like a problem that is relatively small in the grand scheme of things is one of, if not the worst, thing going on in the world right now.

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  75. Once an individual is in State custody, it must be the duty of the State to ensure the safety of that individual, and see that the only punishment they receive is that which was determined in a court of law. If the State cannot do this then it cannot be allowed to detain the individual. Prison abuse and torture by other inmates is cruel and unusual punishment – a violation of constitutional and human rights – and should NEVER be allowed. Prisoners who are victims of abuse should be able to take legal action against the State for criminal and civil liabilities.

    To those who think systemic prison abuse is “no big deal”: if it were your friend or family member being beaten, gang raped, abused and threatened w/murder on a daily basis in prison (especially if he is only in prison for a minor offense) then you would recognize this horror for what it really is – torture on a mass scale.

    Systemic prison abuse can be compared to slavery in the sense that slavery was a crime against humanity that was once accepted as a normal, just, necessary and unavoidable institution of society. It was justified because slaves were viewed as not deserving of basic human rights – much the same way prisoners are viewed today.

  76. So I am having trouble understanding why I should take pity on someone that knowingly committed an illegal activity. Yeah it’s bad that people who did something insignificant have to suffer rape just like the rapists and murderers in the same prison do, but in this economic crisis I think money should be spent on schools, healthcare and other necessary services for those of us who obey the law. Don’t get me wrong the people in the prisons are still people and don’t deserve to get raped but why spend money and effort making life better for the prisoners and spend that money and effort helping those with troubled pasts become a productive member of society and making sure only guilty people suffer in prisons. I know it’s not as easy as this but I thought I would at least explain my opinion instead of just saying prison rape is okay because it happens to prisoners.

  77. CHPPY, most of the people in prison today are going to get out of prison eventually. Spending money to make their lives better is an investment to help them become productive members of society when they get out.

  78. Greg:
    his numbers of 140,000 are low. I did a scholarly paper on the criminal justice system and the over incarceration of african-americans. The statistic was 1 out of 4 men are raped in prison each year.
    See generally Human Rights Watch, No Escape: Male Rape in U.S. Prisons, at http://www.hrw.org/reports/2001/prison/report.html.
    Alberti v. Klevenhagen 790 F.2d 1220, 1224 (5th Cir.1986).
    Schiraldi, Vincent. “Prison Rape is No Joke.” The Washington Post June 2002.

  79. This is a very serious problem. I don’t agree with most rapes that occur inside prisons, but pedophiles that have molested children… well, my opinion is that they deserve it.

  80. OK so the pedophiles deserve to be raped bacause the molested children… so the molested children who grow up to be pedophiles in the cycle of damage…. Also deserve?

  81. “most prisoners that have sex in prison ARE NOT RAPED. They are submitting in return for protection (not just from rape)”

    Erm, excuse me, but in the world outside prisons people who “offer” protection to tradespeople who submit to them in return for safety are racketeers, extortionists and of course, criminals.

    The equation is simple:

    sex + duress = rape

    man or woman, prisoner or freeman.

  82. It’s easy for you people to stand up for the prisoners. I was raped when I was 14. I was only in eighth grade. I did not dress or do anything to provoke what happened. My rapist was given a fair trial and he was convicted for rape as well as other charges. He destroyed my life. I can no longer turn a corner without being afraid someone is going to hurt me. I have nightmares still. I don’t trust any men in my life. I have spent so much money on therapy and anti-depressants, but nothing is going to give me my life back. I am miserable and I do not think I will ever be happy again. That man has destroyed my life and if it takes him getting raped in prison to understand the pain he has caused me. I hope to God he endures it. He ruined my life.

  83. sorry u do the crime
    you have to pay the price
    sometimes the price is your ass

    the reason why i dont do anything bad is becuase getting ass raped is a deterrant to me

  84. What’s worse, is the aftermath of jail. You have to report, to an officer for upwards to 5 years, after “paying your debt to society” not to mention the felony conviction that will gurantee you NO WORK and certainly NO QUARTER. Most major cities will not rent to felons, even if you manage to scam a job at some small company that doesn’t background check. So all in all, what this government and society as a whole is saying is that after incarceration, you have no right to live anywhere or even be able to afford to eat. Suicide is prevalent in felons for a reason.

  85. One overlooked issue is the amount of money made by both the state, and the privately run jails, for taking in a “criminal”. Are you aware that almost 50% of “criminal’s” in American prisons are in there for simple possession of marijuana? Not even trafficking, just possession. Of course, the state gets to charge the taxpayer, and the private jail gets to charge the state, all to lock up your neighbour because he prefers to smoke a peaceful joint, rather than drink violence inducing alcohol. But the public only gets the “official” side of the story, they either can’t or aren’t willing to see, the commercial side of these things they claim to be for our safety!

  86. I mean honestly, I have a friend in the medical field, who works for the government. His job was to look over scientific studies on the effects of drugs. However, his main task, was to discard from the “studies” any scientific research that showed positive aspects of various drugs. Things that didn’t fit the governments propaganda model (Remember: The biggest push to make weed illegal was that it caused white women to sleep with black men). And remember, if gov’t doesn’t sanction a scientific study, it technically, legally does not exist!

  87. you ever think about prisoners get better treatment then the 744,000 homeless people in the country. Nice bed to sleep in, 3 meals everyday, place to work out, watch tv. oh and free medical care.

  88. I truely believe that in a hundred years history will judge this age as barbaric and ignorant in the extreme.
    The policy of warehousing human beings, exposing them to ASSAULT, TORTURE, AND RAPE, will no doubt be looked upon with the same disgust as we look back on the torture instruments of the middle ages.
    I have loved the time I lived in, (I ws born in 1960) but over two million people in jails in prison, which leads the world per capita is absolute barbarism.
    One day this will be an accepted fact.

    Boyce Livingston Webb
    a.k.a. Djangos Burnt Finger

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