Prisoners are persons whom most of us would rather not think about. Banished from everyday sight, they exist in a shadow world that only dimly enters our awareness. They are members of a "total institution" that controls their daily existence in a way that few of us can imagine. "[P]rison is a complex of physical arrangements and of measures, all wholly governmental, all wholly performed by agents of government, which determine the total existence of certain human beings (except perhaps in the realm of the spirit, and inevitably there as well) from sundown to sundown, sleeping, walking, speaking, silent, working, playing, viewing, eating, voiding, reading, alone, with others. . . ." It is thus easy to think of prisoners as members of a separate netherworld, driven by its own demands, ordered by its own customs, ruled by those whose claim to power rests on raw necessity. -- Justice William Brennan, dissenting in O’Lone v. Estate of Shabazz, 482 U.S. 342, 354-55 (1987).

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Sex in Prison

A couple days after I was released, I visited my favorite little pizza bar where I eat lunch almost every day and saw a friend.... a single woman. I teasingly asked her if she had found herself a man during my absence and she replied, "Heck no! I haven't even been laid in 3 months."

After she quickly acknowledged that that was a little more information than my question required and I needed to know, I replied, "Well, if it makes you feel any better, I haven't been laid in 3 months either, but in my case, that's a good thing!"

That pretty much sums up sex in prison... if there is any, it's usually not a good thing.

Fortunately for me, I am a 47 year old man who has been married 12 years. Going 3 months without sex is nothing new :)

Just kidding, dear.

A little bit more seriously, prison is not exactly an environment that stimulates the libido, since sex is as much mental as physical, even for men. Therefore, it is possible to go into sexual hibernation, even for extended periods of time.

Nonetheless, you can imagine being a 22 year old man sentenced to 10 years in prison not being particularly enthralled with the prospect of no sex (at least not with a woman) for the forseeable future. I had a roommate that liked to regale us with his sexual adventures on the outside who I am sure wasn't enjoying being sentenced to 1 year of celibacy. The celibacy was worse than the confinement.

In case you didn't know, conjugal visits are not allowed in federal prison, not that the prospect of such a encounter seems all that dignified.

Prior to the arrival of the current warden at FPC Pensacola a year ago, I have heard it was relatively common for inmates to leave the prison or their work detail for a short period of time for just such a "visit." Not only would that be a major violation of BOP regulations, but I assume it could also result in a separate federal charge for the conjugal partner.

I have heard that gay sex exists although I did not witness or hear of any particular incident. I was usually in bed by 10p and I assume that these kinds of encounters would occur in the bathrooms in the middle of the night. Alfred Porro tells just such a story about his experience in the Allenwood, PA prison camp in Chapter 12 (Sex in the Shower) of an article in The American: Enter a Hellish Place.

Obviously the most common solution is masturbation, which is a topic of many jokes, none of which I am comfortable repeating here. Of course, I alluded to the subject in my earlier article Pregnant Feet.

A slightly more academic treatment of this subject can be found here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is inhumane treatment, I believe that the system is made for profit, not for rehab...