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Dilemma of Offenders in Prison as Victims

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In this assignment we are going look at how prisoner/ offenders are victims in prison to sexual assault, abuse, rape. We will also discuss how women manage motherhood in prison and whether their children should be allowed to have special visitation rights. South African prisons are getting filled with the elderly can the government take care of their needs, then we have juvenile prisoners which often tend to get forgotten by the state and their struggles in prison.

Women in prison

We normally hear about how women are abused and raped on the news but in reality women also commit serious crimes e.g. murder, theft, fraud etc. There is also a concern that women are being neglected and not taken care of in prison. The root of all problems begin that the prison cells are overcrowded women don’t have enough beds to sleep on so women start trading item such as clothes to get a pillow and blanket to sleep on the cold floor. The basic needs of a prisoner are not kept by the government for example the toilets are always clogged, the mattress was not clean that it had a bad odour, lice were found in the blankets and the cells was infested with cockroaches. This goes against all basic human rights.

Women facing sexual abuse in prison

A major issue in women’s prison is female prisoners are being sexually violated by unsupervised access of male staff to the women facilities and there is inadequate disciplinary action against in staff that engage in sexual misconduct. Male staff are being allowed to give pat down searches on female prisoners which can be degrading and can be considered as open abuse, this type of abuse can make a women feel worthless and has a great psychological effect on them when they are released from prison, for these women it is like going through hell over and over again as these women cannot speak up about it as they are too afraid that something more serious will happen to them. The women also feel like no one will believe them because they are offenders and feel they don’t have any rights in prison. These problems can be solved if they can ensure the female prisoners that a female officer or staff will be supervising them at all times.

Motherhood in prison

When a woman in prison has a child or gives birth to a child in prison it has some major psychological effects to them as they feel inadequate, guilt, frustration and are in constant conflict with themselves as they don’t know how their baby is doing or where the child is as the child could be taken away by social workers. When a mother is sent to prison it cause a lot of pain and grief but is also disturbs the whole family. A mother feels inadequate because she cannot look after her child or sometimes give the child breastmilk which causes that inner conflict within the mother.

Insufficient amount of economic justification for programmes

In prison there are so many talented female prisoners that want to learn new skills and want educational, recreational, treatment or training programme but because there is a smaller number of female prisoners than male prisoner, they cannot warrant additional cost of programmes and facilities. To me I feel everyone should be treated equally whether the number of prisoners is small or big, such activities can change a person’s outlook on life and they might want new goals in life and won’t make the same mistake again.

Male inmates

South Africa’s prisons are at full capacity; cells are overcrowded there is nowhere to sleep but on the cold floor. People think men have it easy in prison but that is not the case, men worldwide have been going through sexual violence which is on the rise, which is a serious violation of human rights and public health problems. In a male prison it is all about showing masculinity and control over the weaker ones.

Male prison rape

The first question and individual has who are the victims of prison rape? When a male prisoner enters prison certain prisoners are targeted for sexual assault as soon as they enter prison. Candidates for sexual assault are when a male prisoner is small build, age must not be over 35, appearance, physical weakness, shy and sexual orientation. Most of the inmate have sex out of fear as they are intimidated, some inmates exchange food, drugs and cigarettes for sex. Another question while be raised, who are the prison rapist? They are the prison gangs they have been convicted for more violent crimes than their victims. Most of the victims of prison rape are raped in a gang as they are manipulated, tricked and were threaten to have sex. Another issue which is extremely important is the health issues, most men when are raped find out later to be HIV positive or find out that they have an STD then start having health issues which are permanent and have to live with it forever, this causes a great psychological issue, they start to resent themselves for not being stronger.

Psychological effects on rape

This has a major psychological effect on males who are victims of prison rape as they feel alone because most of the time they do not tell officials or family member that they have been raped. Also most of the men who are raped are heterosexual as they have wives and girlfriends waiting for them, it also has an effect on their ego and self-esteem. They feel like they lost their masculinity and no one will want to be with them or be loved by them.

Older inmates

Prisons are getting full with elderly prisoners as some of them have been sentence in prison for live. There are some challenges for the elderly in prison as cells are overcrowded and not enough funds to update in certain prisons. Having inmates that are older can be expensive as they need special medical attention, special diet, need to be nursed at all times and need special activities for them which can cost a lot. The older inmates are victimised when younger inmates try to intimidate them to show who is in control and who has the upper hand. Older prisoners cannot cope with the typical environment of prison and also need to be ensured their right to safety at all times. To solve the problem of older inmates feeling unsafe they should put the older inmates with inmates their age or get them a cell where only two inmates in a cell.

Juvenile prisoners

Juvenile prisoners are often forgotten about but this is a critical issue as we have a change to reform these children and to show them that it is okay to dream and to have goals in life and that crime won’t get you anywhere but they must also be shown that if they do something wrong there will be a punishment and that is prison. They must be taught for there action there is a consequence, also they need to get their basic education in juvenile prison like children their age on the other hand you have juveniles with disabilities which pose a greater challenge as you need to handle them with care and need proper education for their disabilities. Juveniles need to be separately detained to those 18 years and older as they will be influence and sexually assaulted as they are the perfect target. We all know handling juveniles can be a challenge but we need to protect them to change them.


In ending this assignment, it gave me a lot to think about as we don’t think about what happens in prison and what these inmates are going through on a daily basis, who would think an offender would become a victim in prison. It shows that they are victims whether they are sexually assaulted or not as prison cells don’t meet the basic human right’s needs, there is different age groups that need special attention and care constantly. Everyone’s situation in prison is unique and different but we have serious issues that need attention as soon as possible.

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