Prison Legal News battles DOC censorship of important information on sexual violence in prisons

Prison Legal News has launched an important lawsuit against Arizona’s Department of Corrections over the withholding of their publication from prisoners. The editions in question discuss documented cases of rape and sexual violence perpetrated by prison staff against inmates—one of which took place in an Arizona prison and was heard in federal court. Many inmates

Read More »

When is sexual abuse not sexual abuse? When it happens to a prisoner.

This past week saw the handing down of an important ruling in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals regarding the rights of prisoners, specifically a prisoner’s right not to be sexually abused by prison officials. If you’re questioning how this could even have been a question before the Supreme Court, don’t worry, you’re not alone.

Read More »

Iran Executes Two Rapists in Public; Children Present

On February 13, 2014, Iranian authorities sponsored a public execution in Kozehgari Square of Shiraz. The prisoners, Rahim Esfandiari Bay, 36, and Mohammad Darvish, 37, were convicted of some of the most severe crimes: murder and rape.  Their sentences of execution were carried out via hanging in the public square. According to Fars, the Iranian

Read More »

Prisoners Raped and Sexually Abused While PREA Standards Pending

By Prison Legal News

As described in this issue’s cover story, in May 2012 the U.S. Department of Justice issued a final rule adopting national standards pursuant to the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). The rule was published in the Federal Register and became effective on August 20, 2012; however, state and local corrections agencies were given one year to provide PREA-related training to current employees. Likewise, the first PREA audit cycle, to ensure compliance with the standards, didn’t begin until a year after the rule’s effective date.

Therefore, during the one-year period ending August 20, 2013, state and local corrections officials finalized policies to comply with the PREA standards and trained staff members on PREA-related issues, including “zero-tolerance [policies] for sexual abuse and sexual harassment” and “[h]ow to fulfill their responsibilities under agency sexual abuse and sexual harassment prevention, detection, reporting, and response policies and procedures.”

Concurrently, prison and jail employees nationwide continued a long-standing pattern of raping and sexually assaulting prisoners – a pattern that Prison Legal News has documented extensively. [See, e.g.: PLN, April 2012, p.1; May 2009, p.1; Aug. 2006, p.1].

The following are examples of rape and sexual abuse involving corrections staff reported from August 20, 2012 – when the PREA standards became effective – to August 20, 2013, the start of the first PREA audit cycle. Apparently, these prison and jail employees didn’t pay attention during their PREA training.


On June 19, 2013, two Russell County jail guards were arrested for engaging in sexual misconduct with female prisoners. Jacob Brent Phelps and James Blain were charged with felony sexual misconduct with an inmate; another guard, Charles Tarver, was fired for having “inappropriate conversations” of a sexual nature with prisoners. Phelps and Blain were released on $10,000 bond.

Read More »