Bars to Justice: The Impact of Rape Myths on Women in Prison

53 Pages Posted: 13 Oct 2016  

Hannah Brenner

California Western School of Law

Kathleen Darcy

University of Chicago

Gina Fedock

University of Chicago - School of Social Service Administration

Sheryl Kubiak

Michigan State University

Date Written: April 1, 2016

Abstract

This article stems from a National Science Foundation-funded interdisciplinary research project that addresses a major gap in understanding the reporting of sexual victimization in prison and the confluence of factors that contribute to the ineffectiveness of internal laws and policies. As a basis of this work, our cohort of scholars in law, social work, and psychology utilized data and personal narratives from the groundbreaking class action lawsuit, Neal v. MDOC, brought on behalf of over 800 female inmates against the State of Michigan. In this article, we identify the most prevalent rape myths we observed from women who were involved in the Neal lawsuit and other similarly situated female inmates across the country. We focus on the impact of rape myths in contexts where prison staff perpetrate sexual violence against female inmates and in particular, how rape myths span the closed prison system-from reporting to grievance outcomes. We explore how these myths shape notions of the "ideal victim," discuss their specific impact, and explain why they matter. We consider how, by virtue of their incarcerated status, it is impossible for women victimized in prison to meet the "ideal victim" standards, ultimately rendering their attempts at seeking justice futile. We hope that our analysis of rape myths in the prison context will inspire changes in prison law and policy by acknowledging and urging the dismantling of these often unforeseen, implicit, and informal barriers to justice.

Keywords: Gender, Violence, Rape, Victim, Crime, Rape Myths, Prison, Class Action, Law

Suggested Citation

Brenner, Hannah and Darcy, Kathleen and Fedock, Gina and Kubiak, Sheryl, Bars to Justice: The Impact of Rape Myths on Women in Prison (April 1, 2016). Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law, Vol. XVII, No. 2, 2016; California Western School of Law Research Paper No. 16-16. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2850598

Hannah Brenner (Contact Author)

California Western School of Law ( email )

225 Cedar Street
San Diego, CA 92101
United States

Kathleen Darcy

University of Chicago ( email )

Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Gina Fedock

University of Chicago - School of Social Service Administration ( email )

969 E. 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Sheryl Kubiak

Michigan State University ( email )

Agriculture Hall
East Lansing, MI 48824-1122
United States

Paper statistics

Downloads
44
Abstract Views
166