The idea of prison rape is terrifying for those of us who have never witnessed prison firsthand, and who have only been subjected to more sensationalized Hollywood depictions of imprisonment, but fortunately something that we will never have to face in real life. For the hundreds of thousands of Americans still serving time, a very real regular threat is prison rape. Two instructional videos, one for men and one for women, have been put together by the Marshall Initiative, with tips on what to look for when arriving at prison and how to prevent and protect yourself from sexual harassment while serving a sentence. There aren’t anything like videos of sexual harassment awareness I’ve ever seen before, and watching the female video versus watching the male video illuminates a clear difference, based on gender and perception, between what inmates have to deal with. Men, for instance , tend to have to defend themselves behind bars from more aggressive sexual attacks. “As for women, one inmate in the video says,” There’s no forced rape here; it’s more of a thing of power, of coercion.” “Predators know you’re alone and emotional, “another inmate says.” Predators know you’re alone. “That’s where things go wrong if you seem to be vulnerable and they can take advantage of you.”

The idea of prison rape is terrifying for those of us who have never witnessed prison firsthand, and who have only been subjected to more sensationalized Hollywood depictions of imprisonment, but fortunately something that we will never have to face in real life. For the hundreds of thousands of Americans still serving time, a very real regular threat is prison rape.


Two instructional videos, one for men and one for women, have been put together by the Marshall Initiative, with tips on what to look for when arriving at prison and how to prevent and protect yourself from sexual harassment while serving a sentence.

There aren’t anything like videos of sexual harassment awareness I’ve ever seen before, and watching the female video versus watching the male video illuminates a clear difference, based on gender and perception, between what inmates have to deal with. Men, for instance , tend to have to defend themselves behind bars from more aggressive sexual attacks.

As far as women are concerned, one inmate in the video states, “There is no forced rape here; it’s more of a question of power, of coercion.”

“The predators know that you are emotional and isolated,” says another prisoner. “That’s where things go wrong if you seem to be vulnerable and they can take advantage of you.”


New York State will take an unusual step in combating prison rape in the coming months: prisons will screen prisoners, both male and female, an orientation video providing tips about how to identify and avoid sexual offenders behind bars. The videos, sponsored under the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) through a grant from the federal government, are directed through T.J. Parsell, a former convict who had been assaulted in jail as well. They will be debuted at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women, Fishkill Correctional Facility, and Downstate Correctional Facility for the inmates who took part in the filming, and rolled out in jails throughout the state. New York has had an inconsistent record of prison abuse. In 2010, three of the eleven jails in the U.S. with the most staff-on-inmate sexual assault were in New York, according to PREA surveys. Three correctional officers have been charged with assaulting prisoners alone in Bedford Hills since 2009. The orientation videos are an effort to confront the legacy and reform a prison system in which sexual harassment and the code of silence around it remain all too prevalent.