In Texas, a lawsuit filed against Corrections Corporation of America sheds another sliver of light on the notorious culture of violence at private prisons.
An unnamed prisoner alleges he and over 50 others were violently assaulted during a hazing tradition known as ‘ass to the glass,’ which involves “forcibly stripping an individual, turning him upside down and slamming his buttocks against the glass of a guard’s station.”
The lone guard on duty sat by and watched as the entire cell block at the Bartlett State Jail descended into chaos. According to the lawsuit:
During a two-hour incident last October in which all 55 prisoners in the cell block were subjected to the hazing, a prisoner allegedly “inserted his finger into Mr. Doe’s anus, and another grabbed his testicles, sexually assaulting him in violation of the Texas Penal Code,” according to the documents.
The defendant claims that the one officer on duty, responsible for four cell blocks with 55 prisoners in each, “watched dozens of men get slammed up against the glass wall” and “did nothing.”
The hazing tradition generally targets an individual prisoner who is nearing release. However, the October incident quickly escalated into a cellblock-wide “ass on the glass” after the victim of the initial hazing incident recruited other prisoners to help retaliate against his assailants, according to the documents.
The suit also claims that the prison’s warden and officers have long known about “ass on the glass” but have done nothing to stop it. The company purposefully understaffs the prison to “maximize profits,” the suit claims.
When the inmate told the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Inspector General about the incident, CCA retaliated by throwing him into solitary.
Aside from the abuse and humiliation of the actual assault, the bigger issue is that in reality, prisoners have no reasonable guarantee of safety and security. That seems like a violation of their rights under the 8th amendment to me, as does the fact that there’s no reasonable, functioning ‘proper channel’ from which an inmate can complain and seek impartial relief.
Under these circumstances, it would be ridiculous to believe even the most moral, sound-of-mind individuals could emerge from our prisons repentant and reformed. The fact is that so many have been so traumatized by their experiences behind bars that some researchers think it can lead to a disorder known as Post Incarceration Syndrome — PTSD from prisons.
So why don’t we consider sending someone to prison just as seriously as sending them off to a war zone?