Friday, May 23, 2008

Former Colorado Prison Guard Charged With Rape

From Colorado Independent:

An arrest warrant has been issued for a former prison guard with the Colorado Department of Corrections who is facing both civil and criminal charges of sexual misconduct with inmates, including rape.

The corrections officer failed to appear in court on Tuesday for criminal charges of unlawful sexual conduct with a female inmate he used to supervise, according to Denver district court records. A civil suit filed earlier this month accuses the same guard of raping a female inmate while she was in state custody.

District court records show that 37-year-old Lashawn Terrell, a former sergeant at the Denver Women's Correctional Facility, was first charged by state authorities with engaging in sexual relations with an inmate at the prison in 2006. The sexual acts were reported to have taken place from June to October that year, according to legal statements in the case.

While it is great that this case is being prosecuted, it seems like Terrell's sexual violence was allowed to continue for months until one inmate was left bleeding. Whether his violence was allowed because other guards didn't care or whether it was allowed because of lack of oversight I don't know, but either way there is a systemic problem that this prosecution alone won't fix. For this reason I'm glad that the state corrections department is a co-defendant in the civil suit against Terrell.

All prison employees need to understand that trying to initiate any sexual relationship with an inmate is a rape attempt. It doesn't matter whether that inmate would consent if he or she weren't incarcerated. The threat of physical violence and other harm is implicit when a non-inmate requests sexual contact from an inmate.

The behavior of prison guards and other prison employees should be a positive example for inmates. When it isn't that sends a message which supports the rationalizations of inmates who hurt others through their crimes.

When prisons turn out inmates who are worse than they came in it is usually other inmates who are given all the blame for this change, but prison guards and other prison employees can definitely contribute to this bad outcome.

When members of the public dismiss any harm done to inmates by guards or other prison employees because the inmates don't deserve the protections given to non-criminals they are contributing to an escalation of violence which will spread beyond prison walls.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:43 AM   9 comments links to this post


At May 23, 2008 2:30 PM, Anonymous Anna C said...

"trying to initiate any sexual relationship with an inmate is a rape attempt"

Is it rape the inmate is the one who initiates the relationship?

(and, don't worry, I'm not going to turn this into a big debate - I'm worried I'll offend people like last time)

At May 23, 2008 4:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If he takes her up on it, yes. Just like it's rape if a 40 year old male teacher takes up a proposition from a 14 year old female student, and for exactly the same reasons.

At May 23, 2008 4:26 PM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...

Anna C, a guard agreeing to have sex with an inmate is committing sexual abuse and is committing a serious violation even if the inmate offers sex.

There is no way this can be an equal and free relationship. This behavior by a guard or other prison employee destroys the appropriate relationship boundaries between all prison employees and all inmates.

This hurts not only inmates, but it hurts ethical employees who won't cross that line because they are more likely to be seen as unprofessional and likely to be seducable -- for sex and for breaking the rules for personal gain.

Once inmates lose respect for guards' ethics, the potential for immediate danger goes up and the potential for a long-term disregard for the law goes up.

At May 23, 2008 10:22 PM, Anonymous Renee said...

I so agree Marcella the imbalance of power in the relationship removes the ability of the prisoner to consent. It is a sexual relationship within constrained circumstances. The guard having the ability to discipline could be viewed as threat and therefore consent may be given to avoid harm.

At May 28, 2008 2:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anna C, I disagree with a great deal of Marcella Chester's blogging. But I have to say I question your sense of right and wrong.

This is the same kind of scenario as a military officer having sex with a subordinate in the chain of command, a professor having sex with a student in one of his/her classes, a boss having sex with one of his/her employees. Whether it is consensual or not, whether the superior or subordinate initiated the contact, the situation is so wrong, it should not happen, because the very occurrence of the situation destroys the integrity of whatever organization in which it happens. If it happens because the superior uses his/her power to make it happen, it is several orders of magnitude more wrong. If the subordinate tries to make it happen, it is the responsibility of the superior to make it not happen.

Get your head screwed on right.

At November 11, 2008 9:50 PM, Anonymous Colorado insurance said...

There has been a lot of things that have been similar, and coincidentally in Colorado.
Have you heard Five male prison guards at a privately run female jail in Brush, Colorado are about to be charged with having sex with inmates and introducing contraband.
These things are ridiculous! How does something like this happen?

Also coincidentally, authorities have concluded the claims of sexual assault were false. How do they brush something like this off their shoulder??

Thank you for this post!

At November 21, 2008 10:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My wife is currently in a Colorado Correction facitlity and we desperately need help. She is beautiful and the male supervisors have disallowed me to visit or talk to her with no reason given, and are tell ing her she has to have sex with them or they will get her in more trouble and she will be there a looong time and have a rough time. She refused and one hour later they took her laptop, cell phone, and disallowed her from all phone calls. She phoned me terrified crying and shaking on annother inmates cell phone. This is happening now and their only response to my calls is that due to confidentiality laws thet cannot discuss it with me at all. SHE IS IN DANGER NOW and these sick people are doing nothing. Talking to a lawyer he stated hes heard many stories like that and they all have failed to win for odd reasons. SHE NEEDS HELP NOW!

At November 21, 2008 10:49 PM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...


My heart goes out to you and to your wife. One possible approach is to find out who investigated this case to see if that person can investigate your wife's situation or if they can tell you who is authorized to investigate your wife's situation.

At July 15, 2009 8:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe anonymous should investigate the Colorado State Prisons before making a post of this kind - laptops and cell phones are not allowed. Taking a cell phone into a state prison in Colorado is a felony.


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