Sexual Encounters with Prison Staff

By · Monday, October 6th, 2008

In my book Inside; I described incidents where guards participated in illicit sexual relationships with prisoners. Chapter two described one prisoner who spoke about paying guards for sex, and in chapter ten, I described a prostitution ring that existed in the penitentiary where one guard served as a prostitute for gang members. Some of my readers found those descriptions a bit fantastic and expressed doubt that such encounters really occur. They do. In fact, these recent headlines (seeĀ Former prison secretary admits sex with inmate – 10/3/08, and Former federal prison employee indicted on multiple counts – 9/5/08) publicize the details – and consequences – of two such encounters.

I have been confined in prisons of every security level, and in every security level I have known female staff members who engaged in sexual acts with prisoners. Many have been prosecuted for their actions. Yet I know some staff members who were never discovered. One friend of mine had a relationship with a nurse who worked at a prison. She resigned from her job once other staff members began to suspect the sexual relationship she was having with my friend. The couple was later married.

One reader asked how I felt about female guards who engaged in personal relationships with prisoners. The reader was a criminal justice student, and I suspect that she drew a clear distinction between correctional officers and prisoners. Although I understood her concerns about preserving the security of prisons, from my perspective prisons serve as breeding grounds for failure and corruption; high recidivism rates support my premise.

According to my perspective, God created us all as human beings. When men and women come together, the possibility exists for them to build relationships. Although such relationships may be contrary to prison design, they are consistent with God’s design. I am opposed to prison rules. It is wrong, I think, to separate men from women for years or decades at a time. Such unnatural environments cause more harm than good. If a man in prison succeeds in building a relationship with a woman, regardless of where she works, I am convinced the man will have more rather than less reason to prepare for a contributory life. That is why I would not judge a prison guard who developed a relationship with a prisoner.

During the 21 years that I have served in prison, I have never had an inappropriate relationship with a staff member. I did, however, fall in love and marry a magnificent woman. Had she worked for a prison where I was confined, I would have loved her just the same.

My allegiance is not to a system that cultivates failure.

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One Response to “Sexual Encounters with Prison Staff”

  1. I have to admit that this post made me squirm in my seat a little. I absolutely believe that a healthy sexual relationship is one of life’s great joys. Maslow was right on about including it in his hierarchy of needs.
    My discomfort doesn’t lie with prisoners having sex per se. I am uncomfortable with sexual relationships between people in two very different places of power. Sex can be a natural expression of love but it is also often used as a tool in power plays.