The state of New York released a series of videos warning inmates about the dangers of prison rape. This is an unprecedented move. To my knowledge, no other state has engaged in such an overt campaign to educate its inmates on how to protect themselves. Granted, the campaign is somewhat of a tacit admission that New York essentially allows its staff and inmates to prey those the state imprisons. However, at least the state is not pretending nothing happens.
From the article about the campaign:
In the upcoming months, New York state will take an unusual step towards preventing prison rape: Prisons will show inmates — both male and female — an orientation video offering advice on how to identify, and avoid, sexual predators behind bars.
The videos, funded through a grant from the federal government under the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), are directed by T.J. Parsell, a former prisoner who was also raped in prison. They will be premiered for the inmates who participated in the filming — at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women, Fishkill Correctional Facility, and Downstate Correctional Facility — then rolled out in prisons across the state.
While I think this is a good idea as it would help inmates who would be at risk, I think a better use of PREA funds would be changing the internal structural problems that allow for the assaults to happen in the first place. Perhaps if there were fewer inmates, more emphasis on treating inmates like people rather than monsters, and more avenues for inmates to report assaults without fear of reprisal there would be little need for such videos.
Of course, that would require the state to admit that the state itself is the problem and that likely will not happen. In the interim, we have these videos. They are informative, dispelling some of the myths about how prison rape occurs and revealing some of the risk factors that help an inmate protect himself.
On that note, I find it curious that there was no feminist backlash about the videos. The videos do precisely what feminists claim to hate: teach the victim how to change his behavior to avoid being raped rather than teaching men rapists not to rape. But perhaps the silence is due to the pesky fact that the vast majority of prison rape victims are male and from the feminist perspective men cannot really be victims.