from the world's big
Taking Prison Rape Seriously
Robert Perkinson: Well, there’s \r\nso many people in prison that sexual victimization in prison now has \r\ncome to constitute a significant portion of the sexual victimizations in\r\n the society as a whole. Human Rights Watch and some of the human \r\nrights organizations have really began in the late ‘90’s documenting the\r\n incredibly high rates of sexual assault. Which was not new. If you go\r\n back and look at the very economical cost-effective regimented system \r\nthat Texas was able to perfect over the course of the 20th century, \r\nbased on convict guards. A lot of the ways those guards were in a sense\r\n compensated was by officers turning a blind eye to their sexual \r\nvictimization of "punks," so-called "punks" in prison. So, sexual \r\nassault has been endemic and often a tool of... a tool of subjugation in\r\n prisons for a long time, but it has gotten a lot more attention.
And\r\n under the Bush Administration—to the Bush Administration’s credit—they \r\nsigned legislation to kind of conduct a lot more research into sexual \r\nvictimization and so we’re getting a lot better data on that now, and I \r\nthink because the data is now available, some corrections officers are \r\nstarting to take it more seriously and therefore when victims, or \r\nwould-be victims, are in a compromising situation we are beginning to \r\nhave a system in which they feel like they can go to the authorities and\r\n seek protection and receive redress. But we are, frankly, a long way \r\nfrom that.
And there is, of course, a public health component \r\nto this as well to both coerced sex and consensual sex in prison, and \r\nthat is that another way that mass imprisonment is adversely affecting \r\nthe public is that they have become incubators of public health \r\nproblems. They’ve become incubators of hepatitis B; they’ve become \r\nincubators of HIV and antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis. And of course \r\nall of that has consequences beyond prison walls. It’s yet another \r\nreason to try to use incarceration as a penalty of last resort than a \r\npenalty of first resort, as we have started doing in recent years.
Question:\r\n Are public attitudes about imprisonment changing?
Robert\r\n Perkinson: I don’t know if we have seen a change in the public \r\nmindset yet. We have seen a leveling off of the prison population in \r\nthe last few years. We have seen a lot of states start to mitigate some\r\n of the harsh steps they’ve taken over the past two generations. Texas \r\nhas rolled back partially the Rockefeller Drug Laws, California, facing \r\nbankruptcy, is struggling to release 40,000 inmates in order to comply \r\nwith Federal Court Orders. A lot of states are trying to figure out how\r\n to save money, because of the budget crisis, by downsizing these \r\nresource-devouring bureaucracies that they’ve built. But I don’t know \r\nif we have yet see a shift in public attitudes. That will probably \r\ntake... in come ways there’s evidence that the harsh public attitudes \r\nhave been driven in some ways by television and by politicians. If you \r\nlook at a sociologist in Washington, Katherine Beckett, went back and \r\nlooked at opinion surveys, you know, how seriously the public thought \r\ndrug addiction, how serious of a problem that was compared to other \r\nproblems. And she found that, for instance before Bush the first \r\nbrandished his bag of crack that had been purchased in Lafayette Park \r\nand made the war on drugs an essential part of his presidency. Before \r\nthat, political leadership for partisan purposes took place and \r\ncommanded public attention, the public was not particularly concerned \r\nabout illegal drug use. And afterward they developed harsher attitudes \r\nand more anxiety. So we’re going to have to see some leadership in the \r\nother direction, I think, for people to start developing other ideas.
One\r\n thing I should say about that too is that the public, quite \r\nunderstandably, has very fickle attitudes and conflicted attitudes \r\ntoward crime and punishment as all of us do. And so polls are in some \r\nways driven by how you ask the question. So if you ask people, do we go\r\n too... "Should we be harder on criminals than we are?" Many poll \r\nrecipients, especially white men it should be said, will say yes, we \r\nneed to be harder on crime. But if you ask them, the public, "Should we\r\n emphasize treatment over incarceration for non-violent drug crimes?" \r\nthey also say yes. Or "Should we have more treatment in prison?" or \r\n"Should we have more education in prison?" So, you know, framing has a \r\nlot to do with how successfully we are able to pursue changes.
the\r\n problem we have had in recent years is that the Democrats from the end \r\nof the Johnson Administration forward have been running scared on \r\ncriminal justice. They felt that the accusation of being soft on crime \r\nis one of their critical vulnerabilities. And so President Clinton more\r\n masterfully than his predecessors decided that he was going to be a \r\ndraconian as any of his opponents and he signed the largest, harshest \r\ncrime bills in American history during his watch. And he did \r\nsuccessfully fortify his right flank on criminal justice, but with \r\nabsolutely disastrous effects. And so far, the Obama Administration has\r\n not taken that approach... of course they have had a congressional \r\nmajority so they haven’t had as much pressure to do so. And we will see \r\nwhether they are able to have the kind of fortitude and attention and \r\nable to marshal the political capital to kind of move through some \r\nserious changes as there is some evidence that they do want to do.
Recorded\r\n April 14, 2010
Sexual victimization in prison now has come to constitute a significant portion of that in society as a whole.
Join The Daily Show comedian Jordan Klepper and elite improviser Bob Kulhan live at 1 pm ET on Tuesday, July 14!
Gender and sexual minority populations are experiencing rising anxiety and depression rates during the pandemic.
- Anxiety and depression rates are spiking in the LGBTQ+ community, and especially in individuals who hadn't struggled with those issues in the past.
- Overall, depression increased by an average PHQ-9 score of 1.21 and anxiety increased by an average GAD-7 score of 3.11.
- The researchers recommended that health care providers check in with LGBTQ+ patients about stress and screen for mood and anxiety disorders—even among those with no prior history of anxiety or depression.
Study findings<p>For the study, <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11606-020-05970-4" target="_blank">published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine</a><em>, </em>Flentje and her team evaluated survey responses from nearly 2,300 individuals who identified as being in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) community. Most of the participants were white, while nearly 19 percent identified as a racial or ethnic minority. Multiple genders were represented with cisgender women (27.2 percent) and men (24.6 percent) making up a majority of the participants. Sixty-three percent had been assigned female at birth. For the most part, participants identified their sexual orientations as queer (40.3 percent), gay (36.5 percent), and bisexual (30.3 percent).</p><p>The JGIM study participants were recruited from the 18,000-participant <a href="https://pridestudy.org/" target="_blank">PRIDE Study</a> (Population Research in Identity and Disparities for Equality), which is the first large-scale, long-term national study focusing on American adults who identify as LGBTQ+. It conducts annual questionnaires to understand factors related to health and disease in this population. </p><p>Participants filled out an annual questionnaire (starting in June 2019) and a COVID-19 impact survey this past spring. Flentje noted that on an individual level, some people may not have experienced a big change in anxiety or depression levels, but for others there was. Overall, depression increased by a <a href="https://patient.info/doctor/patient-health-questionnaire-phq-9" target="_blank">PHQ-9 score</a> of 1.21, putting it at 8.31 on average. Anxiety went up by a <a href="https://www.mdcalc.com/gad-7-general-anxiety-disorder-7" target="_blank">GAD-7</a> score of 3.11 to an average of 8.89. Interestingly, the average PHQ-9 scores for those who screened positive for depression at the first 2019 survey decreased by 1.08. Those who screened negative for depression saw their PHQ-9 scores increase by 2.17 on average. As for anxiety, researchers detected no GAD-7 change among the study participants who screened positive for anxiety in the first survey, but did see an overall increase of 3.93 among those who had initially been evaluated as negative for the disorder. </p>
Risks among gender and sexual minorities<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="fc3fd1ae68b77bbbf58a6995638d6d65"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/EnUqDjCqg0A?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>The LGBTQ+ community is a vulnerable population to mental health concerns because of their fear of stigmatization and previous discriminatory experiences.</p> <p>Previous research by the Human Rights Campaign has found "that LGBTQ Americans are more likely than the <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/general+population/" target="_blank">general population</a> to live in poverty and lack access to adequate medical care, paid <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/medical+leave/" target="_blank">medical leave</a>, and basic necessities during the pandemic," said researcher Tari Hanneman, director of the health and aging program at the campaign.</p> <p>"Therefore, it is not surprising to see this increase in anxiety and depression among this population," Hanneman said in the release. "This study highlights the need for <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/health+care+professionals/" target="_blank">health care professionals</a> to support, affirm and provide <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/critical+care/" target="_blank">critical care</a> for the LGBTQ community to manage and maintain their mental health, as well as their physical health, during this pandemic."</p>
What should health care providers do?<p>The authors of the study recommend that health care providers check in with LGBTQ+ patients about stress and screen for mood and anxiety disorders in members of that community—even among those with no prior history of anxiety or depression.</p><p>As cases of COVID-19 continue to mount, the sustained social distancing, potential isolation, economic precariousness, and personal illness, grief, and loss are bound to have increased and varied impacts on mental health. Effective treatments may include individual therapy and medications as well as more large-scale coronavirus support programs like peer-led groups and mindfulness practices. </p><p>"It will be important to find out what happens over time and to identify who is most at risk, so we can be sure to roll out public health interventions to support the mental health of our communities in the best and most effective ways," said Flentje.</p>
What we know about black holes is both fascinating and scary.
- When it comes to black holes, science simultaneously knows so much and so little, which is why they are so fascinating. Focusing on what we do know, this group of astronomers, educators, and physicists share some of the most incredible facts about the powerful and mysterious objects.
- A black hole is so massive that light (and anything else it swallows) can't escape, says Bill Nye. You can't see a black hole, theoretical physicists Michio Kaku and Christophe Galfard explain, because it is too dark. What you can see, however, is the distortion of light around it caused by its extreme gravity.
- Explaining one unsettling concept from astrophysics called spaghettification, astronomer Michelle Thaller says that "If you got close to a black hole there would be tides over your body that small that would rip you apart into basically a strand of spaghetti that would fall down the black hole."
The team caught a glimpse of a process that takes 18,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years.
- In Italy, a team of scientists is using a highly sophisticated detector to hunt for dark matter.
- The team observed an ultra-rare particle interaction that reveals the half-life of a xenon-124 atom to be 18 sextillion years.
- The half-life of a process is how long it takes for half of the radioactive nuclei present in a sample to decay.
A new study looks at what would happen to human language on a long journey to other star systems.
- A new study proposes that language could change dramatically on long space voyages.
- Spacefaring people might lose the ability to understand the people of Earth.
- This scenario is of particular concern for potential "generation ships".