View Full Version : Prison Rape

06-15-2002, 08:02 AM
Dear Friends, below are two articles concerned with prisoner rape. The first talks about the reasons why 7 UP pulled the TV commercial "making fun" of prisoner rape. The second is about the legislation that was introduced last week in Congress to combat prison rape. Although this legislation was being prepared before the 7 UP commercial, there was not agreement between the conservatives and liberals on the exact language of the bill. I think the 7 UP commercial was a catalyst to bring about this bi-partisan legislation. Charlie

Blasted for Jail Rape Jokes
Thu May 30, 5:32 AM ET
By Doug Young

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The makers of the 7 Up soft drink have yanked a TV commercial set in a prison off the air after protests from a convict rights group over its alleged jail rape allusions.

The company pulled the 30-second commercial off the airwaves on Friday after the U.S. prisoner rights group, Stop Prisoner Rape, said the ad trivialized the "serious physical and psychological injury" inmates suffer from sexual abuse.

The ad, which was meant to be humorous, was part of a popular but controversial campaign credited with helping the 73-year-old "uncola" shed its bland image and connect with a younger audience. It was the first time 7 Up canceled an ad for objectionable content, a spokeswoman said.

"This commercial was perpetuating the kind of callousness that allows sexual abuse to continue in so many prisons virtually unchecked," said Stop Prisoner Rape Executive Director Lara Stemple. "We're very glad to hear that 7 Up has decided to stop sending out the message that it's OK to laugh about rape when it involves people in prison."

The spot titled "Captive Audience," created by New York-based ad agency Young & Rubicam Inc., features 7 Up pitchman Godfrey in the slammer pitching the drink to inmates. At one point, Godfrey, a comedian who goes by the single name, is walking down a row of cells, handing out soda to each prisoner he passes, when he accidentally drops a can. "I'm not picking that up," he remarks.

In the final shot, he sits inside a cell with a tattooed inmate whose arm is draped around him. "When you drink 7 Up, everyone is your friend," Godfrey remarks, prompting the inmate to tighten his arm just a bit to Godfrey's discomfort. "OK, that's enough being friends," he says.

The prisoner rights group said men and women in prison are routinely raped and sexually brutalized, causing "serious physical and psychological injury."


"Unfortunately, jokes about rape in prison have become alarmingly common," she said. "But sexual violence is occurring in prison right now, to real people, causing real suffering."

Philippa Dworkin, a spokeswoman for Dr. Pepper/Seven Up, a unit of UK-based Cadbury Schweppes, said the ad, which had been airing for about two months, tested well with audiences and that no objections were made at the time.

But she acknowledged the legitimacy of Stop Prisoner Rape's concerns, which led to the company's Friday notification that all networks should stop airing the spot.

"We listened to what they had to say," she said. "They had some very valid points about the ad being able to be interpreted a different way from what we intended."


Prison Rape Is No Joke/The Washington Post 6/13/02

By Vincent Schiraldi and Mariam M. Bell
Historic legislation was introduced this week to combat the epidemic of prison rape -- a scourge that is estimated to affect some 175,000 Americans annually. Normally fodder for stand-up comics, prison rape is in fact one of the principal untreated human rights abuses in America today.

According to extensive research in numerous prisons, nearly one-quarter of all prisoners fall victim to sexual pressuring, attempted sexual assaults and rapes during their incarceration. One in 10 will be the victims of rapes, and two-thirds of those have been victimized, on average, nine times during their incarceration. When young people are incarcerated with adults, they are sexually assaulted five times more frequently than when they are confined with other juveniles.

Rodney Hulin Jr. was one such inmate. Handed his first prison sentence at the age of 17 for setting fire to a neighbor's fence, the inexperienced, slight inmate was repeatedly raped in prison almost immediately upon arrival. He begged authorities to move him to a juvenile facility or otherwise protect him.

Despite the fact that his examination by prison doctors verified that Rodney had been raped, he was put back in general population and essentially told to fend for himself. When he was violated again, Rodney hanged himself in his cell.

A broad coalition is supporting bipartisan legislation to address the epidemic of prison rape. Sens. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Reps. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and Bobby Scott (D-Va.) have introduced the Prison Rape Reduction Act of 2002 to address this issue in a manner that is both effective and federalism-friendly. Supporters span the political spectrum, from Charles Colson and Gary Bauer to the NAACP and from Human Rights Watch to the Southern Baptist Convention.

Following extensive research into prison rape, any prison system where the incidence of rape is more than 20 percent greater than the national norm will lose federal prison funds unless its administrator can explain the steps being taken to reduce the incidence of prison rape. All too often, rape serves as a form of prison control, and corrections directors pay no price for high rates of prison rape. The prospect of being hauled off to Washington to explain their systems' abuses will serve as a powerful incentive for previously indifferent prison administrators to this problem to come up with effective solutions.

Another aspect of the bill cuts federal grants to prison accrediting bodies unless they ask serious questions about staff training, screening systems, whistle-blower protection, confidentiality of complaints and other relatively easy and low-cost ways to curb prison rape. Right now, prison systems can have their accreditation yanked for not having enough lawbooks in their libraries, but there are no serious standards specifically aimed at preventing prison rape.

Finally, the act creates a commission modeled on the National Gambling Commission that would conduct comprehensive hearings, culminating in standards for the reduction of prison rape. These standards would apply to all state prison systems within one year, unless states opted out of them through legislation. Within three years of the bill's passage, every state would be forced to address the horror of prison rape.

All of this would be accomplished employing only modest means. The bill imposes no state mandates -- something the federal government has every right to do since, by an 8 to 1 vote, the Supreme Court held that deliberate indifference to prison rape violates the Constitution's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.

Six hundred thousand inmates -- a population larger than the District of Columbia's -- will return to our communities next year. While only one in 10 of them will have received drug treatment while incarcerated, nearly one in four will have been raped or pressured to have sex against his will.

Prison rape is no joke. It's a human rights violation of major proportions that needs to be immediately addressed. Because it is counterproductive to return prisoners to society more damaged than when they entered, and because it debases us all to turn a blind eye to anyone's rape, it's time to legislate in this long-neglected arena.

Vincent Schiraldi is president of the Justice Policy Institute. Mariam M. Bell is national director of public policy for the Prison Fellowship Ministries.

06-16-2002, 02:50 PM

Thanks for posting these. This is a very important topic. I was involved in a small way on the 7up campaign. I must have wrote letters regarding this to every to every local TV station, & national network, along with 7up, & Schwepps Int.
So it's great that you've kept us up to date with the legislation. I hadn't even heard of it. Thanks------Ken

06-17-2002, 11:37 AM
That's sad.

06-17-2002, 12:22 PM
Thanks for that update Sherri...

When I first saw that commercial I got so mad because there are just too many jokes on prison rape. People just don't think or care to understand!

I am glad to hear that the commercial was pulled & hopefully something will be done about this situation in the prison system & soon!

06-17-2002, 02:50 PM
It's awful that a tv commercial has made fun of a horrible situation like prison rape. I didn't see the commercial but I heard a lot about it. :(