Rikers Island received much recent attention while it held Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a man who some believe will be the next president of France. Now that Strauss-Kahn is out on bail for his sexual assault charges, the media circus has left Rikers. However, the media should be focusing its attention on the egregious conduct of some of the State prisons' corrections officers.
The federal Bureau of Justice recently completed a survey of the nation's prisons and the results for New York State prisons are disturbing. Of the 11 prisons ranking highest in reports of corrections officer sexual assault, 3 are within New York State's prison system, according to City Limits magazine. Reports range from inappropriate groping or touching, to forcible rape of inmates. What's especially troubling is that this may just be the tip of the iceberg.
A prison guard's abuse of inmates - whether violent or sexual - routinely goes by unreported. The victim typically fears further retaliation if he reports the abuse, so he or she will keep quiet and hope the assault subsides. Also, it is extremely rare for a prison guard to report abuse committed by a fellow corrections officer. The officers typically have a fraternal nature about them, and reporting a fellow's guard misconduct is extremely uncommon.
Fortunately, a skilled personal injury attorney can serve as the abused inmate's advocate. A lawyer experienced in litigating inmate abuse cases knows how to conduct the investigation and hold the abusive officers accountable. Whether the assault was a use of excessive force or sexual in nature, it is an infringement of human rights and the wrongdoer must be held accountable. If you or a loved one has experienced abuse while serving time in Rikers contact a lawyer quickly, as the law has strict time limits for filing claims.
Sources: CityLimits.org, "Prison guards get light sentences for sex abuse" May 23, 2011. NYmag.com, "Dominique Strauss-Kahn Indicted on Seven Counts" May 19, 2011.