Back in 1998, Jan Lastocy was serving time for attempted embezzlement in a Michigan prison. Her job was working at a warehouse for a nearby men’s prison. She got along well with two of the corrections officers who supervised her, but she thought the third was creepy. “He was always talking about how much power he had,” she said, “how he liked being able to write someone a ticket just for looking at him funny.” Then, one day, he raped her.
Jan wanted to tell someone, but the warden had made it clear that she would always believe an officer’s word over an inmate’s, and didn’t like “troublemakers.” If Jan had gone to the officers she trusted, they would have had to repeat her story to the same warden. Jan was only a few months away from release to a halfway house. She was desperate to get out of prison, to return to her husband and children. So she kept quiet—and the officer raped her again, and again. There were plenty of secluded places in the huge warehouse, behind piles of crates or in the freezer. Three or four times a week he would assault her, from June all the way through December, and the whole time she was too terrified to report the attacks. Later, she would be tormented by guilt for not speaking out, because the same officer went on to rape other women at the prison…
For all these reasons, a large majority of inmates who have been sexually abused by staff or by other inmates never report it. And corrections officials, with some brave exceptions, have historically taken advantage of this reluctance to downplay or even deny the problem. According to a recent report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), a branch of the Department of Justice, there were only 7,444 official allegations of sexual abuse in detention in 2008, and of those, only 931 were substantiated. These are absurdly low figures. But perhaps more shocking is that even when authorities confirmed that corrections staff had sexually abused inmates in their care, only 42 percent of those officers had their cases referred to prosecution; only 23 percent were arrested, and only 3 percent charged, indicted, or convicted. Fifteen percent were actually allowed to keep their jobs.
Prisons are supposed to be part of the justice system. The courts mead out justice. That sometimes means going to prison. That is the punishment the court has seen fit, acting on behalf of the people, to levy on the convicted. Embezzlement and other non-violent crimes are not nice. The victims sometimes going through their own particular hell. That does not mean, or should not mean, that heaped on top of the court’s sentence, the convicted should also become a victim of some of sexual torture.
There is an old truism that only the poor go to jail. In David Kaiser and Lovisa Stannow’s example of M’s Lastocy, for attempting to embezzle she went to prison where she also became a victim. Yet, after having pillaged the United States of trillions in wealth, no one from Wall St has gone to jail. The financiers, analysts and traders on Wall St are wealthy and mostly white males. Jeffrey Epstein is rich. he has engaged in sex trafficking and sexual slavery. He got a 13-month sentence for one count of soliciting prostitution from a minor in 2010. Behind Pedophile Jeffrey Epstein’s Sweetheart Deal
Some of the most shocking allegations against Epstein surfaced only after the conclusion of an FBI probe, in civil suits brought by his victims: for example, the claim that three 12-year-old French girls were delivered to him as a birthday present. But the feds did identify roughly 40 young women, most of them underage at the time, who described being lured to Epstein’s Palm Beach home on the pretense of giving a “massage” for money, then pressured into various sex acts, as well as the “Balkan sex slave” Epstein allegedly boasted of purchasing from her family when she was just 14. More recently, a big cash payment from Mail on Sunday coaxed one of Epstein’s main accusers out of anonymity to describe what she claims were her years as a teenage sex toy. This victim, Virginia Roberts, produced a photo of herself with Prince Andrew in 2001 and reported that Epstein paid her $15,000 to meet the prince. Then 17 years old, she claims that she was abused by Epstein and “loaned” to his friends from the age of 15.
Scott Horton notes that in regards to the torture of prison inmates Attorney General Eric Holder was supposed to act on recommendations of a congressional commission, with a rare bipartisan and statutory mandate, in 2009. He has thus far failed to do so. The president and Congress should be holding the DOJ accountable. If recommendations are not acted upon, Holder should be replaced. If the nations; highest law enforcement officers are not held accountable it makes the concept of justice and law enforcement a farce. While they are at it, Congress should be investigating the tremendous disparity between the sentences for those with wealth and power, and those who are poor. Justice is supposed to be blind to such petty distinctions. Financial, sexual and violent crimes are being committed by people who act as though they are above the law because they are aware of cases like Epstein and the complete lack of Wall St accountability. No one hears about the thousands of Jan Lastocys.
Paul Baran, Internet Pioneer, Dies at 84. Baran was very fair-minded about his contributions to the invention of the internet and how credit should be divided among all the people who were part of the internet’s creation,
In recent years, the origins of the Internet have been subject to claims and counterclaims of precedence, and Mr. Baran was an outspoken proponent of distributing credit widely.
“The Internet is really the work of a thousand people,” he said in an interview in 2001.
“The process of technological developments is like building a cathedral,” he said in an interview in 1990. “Over the course of several hundred years, new people come along and each lays down a block on top of the old foundations, each saying, ‘I built a cathedral.’
“Next month another block is placed atop the previous one. Then comes along an historian who asks, ‘Well, who built the cathedral?’ Peter added some stones here, and Paul added a few more. If you are not careful you can con yourself into believing that you did the most important part. But the reality is that each contribution has to follow onto previous work. Everything is tied to everything else.”