The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has reinstated a civil rights suit brought by female prisoners against New York prison guards for alleged rapes and improper touching.
One main point of contention presented to the Second Circuit was whether ex-inmates have standing to proceed with their suit since they are no longer incarcerated. The court ultimately determined that in some circumstances past inmates can in fact have standing. The court then remanded the case back down to the U.S. District Court to determine whether these particular ex-inmates will be permitted to bring a class action on behalf of 2,200 other prisoners.
Sexual Abuse in New York Prisons
Under the laws of New York, women are incapable of consenting to sex while they are in the custody of the Department of Corrections. However, the Second Circuit's opinion referenced that more than 200 complaints are received by the New York prison systems sex crimes unit each year.
Unfortunately, these numbers may not actually illustrate the full extent of the problem. Dori Lewis, a lawyer for the Legal Aid Society and lead attorney in the original 2003 suit, stated to the Wall Street Journal, "It's the same way as in the outside world. People are very hesitant to come forward. Sexual abuse is shameful. It's humiliating. People are very fearful of retaliation and don't think they'll be believed."
The well-being and proper treatment of prisoners is vital to the preservation of civil rights in any society. People incarcerated in New York City need to be vigilant in protecting their rights, especially given that New York City has one of the most prominent jail systems in the country - with its main complex, Rikers Island, being known worldwide. If you or a loved one has been injured while being incarcerated, contact an experienced prisoner assault attorney in your area to be advised of your rights and options.
Source: NY Court Reinstates Prison Sex Abuse Suit