5 Horrible Things Happening Behind Bars

Prison is supposed to be a place for punishment and reform, not a place where a person gives up all of his or her rights and humanity. Yet in an age of police brutality, violence and harassment, those who enforce the laws often treat offenders as sub-human, subjecting them to physical, emotional and financial abuse.

Here are five incidents that you won’t believe happened in our prison system.

1. Sterilizing inmates in exchange for shorter sentences

In one Tennessee county, a judge has created his own “get out of jail free” card by offering inmates 30 days less in jail. The catch? They have to get long-term reversible birth control if they ovulate, or a vasectomy if they have penises.

“Judge Benningfield told NewsChannel 5 that he was trying to break a vicious cycle of repeat offenders who constantly come into his courtroom on drug related charges, subsequently can’t afford child support and have trouble finding jobs,” reports Channel 5 News. “‘I hope to encourage them to take personal responsibility and give them a chance, when they do get out, to not to be burdened with children. This gives them a chance to get on their feet and make something of themselves,’ Judge Benningfield said in an interview.”

Of course, the vast majority of those in prison in Tennessee are people of color, making this not just reproductive coercion but likely racially-based coercion, too.

2. Withholding medication

Prisoners have little control over their lives in jail, and a combination of poor nutrition and inadequate health care means that those behind bars are some of the sickest populations in the country. And that makes it even more unconscionable that prison workers are allegedly denying inmates medication.

“Two former Oklahoma jail officials allege a physician routinely delayed or denied medications to incoming inmates,” the Associated Press reports.

The news agency adds:

The suit alleges ‘deliberate indifference’ to the medical needs of Catherine Lee Freeman. Freeman, 39, said she suffered seizures and was put on mechanical ventilation after the Armour physician halted her prescribed anxiety, depression and pain medications in 2014.

The suit claims that the system attempted to save money by denying care, assuming the prisoner would not be harmed until after he or she was out of their jurisdiction.

3. Detaining pregnant women

Prior to the President Trump era, Immigration and Customs Enforcement was unlikely to detain a pregnant woman — but all of that has changed now. And those who are detained may not receive the best of medical care, especially when they are showing signs of complications.

That’s precisely what happened to Jacinta Morales, who miscarried at a detention center in Oregon.

“‘After an hour I went to doctor and they put me in a small room like this one, and I was really bleeding hard,’ Morales recalled. ‘The officer asked me if I was feeling a lot of pain, and I said yes. And she said, “I’m going to go see if they can see you quickly,”‘” reports KUOW. “Morales guesses she waited another hour, while other women were seen. She said one had a toothache. In medical notes time-stamped around noon, Morales rated her pain 10 out of 10. The doctor ordered a hospital ambulance. It was slow to come, so they took her in the back of a patrol car, sitting up, which she said made the bleeding worse.”

Even pregnant individuals who haven’t been detained or arrested can be in danger from police. A woman in Chicago just received a $500,000 settlement for a miscarriage she suffered after being tased three times by a police officer.

4. Taking money and property — even from those not charged with a crime

Civil forfeiture was supposed to be a thing of the past, but with Attorney General Jeff Sessions running the Department of Justice, the practice has returned. Those who are accused of crimes can have their assets taken — even if it turns out that they were, in fact, innocent.

It’s a money grab for those in the police forces, and it will only get worse.

The way it works is that cops can stop you for about anything, and then take your stuff if they suspect you of a crime — no need to convict or even charge you first,” writes Harry Siegal at the New York Post.

Siegal also notes: “Back in 2014, the Washington Post found that since 9/11, cops had seized 2.5 billion supposedly crime-related dollars, most of it in chunks of under $10,000, from people who were never charged with a crime.”

5. Forcing inmates to “bark like a dog”

Then there are just the law enforcement officers who enjoy humiliating their prisoners. In Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio loved to make his inmates wear pink panties. In Louisiana, it appears the fad is to make inmates bark for their food.

“Louisiana prison officials blocked attorneys from investigating ‘alarming’ allegations of inmate abuse, including claims that mentally ill prisoners were forced to kneel or bend down and bark like dogs to get food, a lawsuit alleges,” reports the Associated Press. “The federal suit, filed Thursday by the Advocacy Center, said the New Orleans-based nonprofit also has received reports that disabled prisoners at David Wade Correctional Center in Homer have been slapped, punched, kicked, sprayed with mace and bleach and stripped of clothing during the winter.”

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Marija M
Marija M2 months ago


Elizabeth O
Elizabeth O7 months ago

Thanks for the article.

joan s
joan s7 months ago


Margie F
Margie FOURIE7 months ago

But how did the victims suffer?

Fran away F
Fran SiteIssues F7 months ago

The U.S. prison system is fascistic.

Mike H
Mike H7 months ago

If you can't do the time don't do the crime

Lisa Zarafonetis
Lisa Z7 months ago


Julia S
Julia S7 months ago

Thank you!

Elisabeth H
Elisabeth H7 months ago

thanks for info

Peggy B
Peggy B7 months ago

Not good.