Institutionalized Indifference: Rape with a View

In this essay, I discuss my experience with institutional indifference during a brief stay at a medium security local jail in Southeastern Louisiana and the conditions, circumstances and participants involved in my sexual assault. In this discussion, I intend to offer an "insider's account" as a type of autoethnographic method of inquiry whose purpose is to expose readers to the complex dynamics of life within a correctional system for a young, middle class, college educated, gay man of colour. This "insider's account" attempts to describe the conditions and circumstances of my incarceration, which contributed to my sexual assault and the ensuing analysis of that event. I begin with a discussion of my methodology, specifically my decision to employ the autoethnographic method and the application of "convict criminology" in the elaboration of my personal narrative. Then, I present that narrative - which describes my experiences while incarcerated that lead up to and included my assault - followed by some analysis about prison culture, both general and specific to the institution where I was held, in tandem with an exploration of prison sex and sexual culture, and the discourses of safety that proliferate outside its walls. Finally, I conclude with a discussion about the politics of prison rape and sexual assault that include a summary of, and my personal reactions subsequent to, my escape and release from both the institution and my attacker. The objective in writing this essay is to better inform readers about the socioeconomic, racist and homophobic obstacles that faces those familiar and unfamiliar with our Nation's criminal justice system and the very real, very frightening problems of sexual assault that gay men must encounter and negotiate - every day, of every week, of every year within that system.