Juvenile prisons such as this one have been a scene to hundreds of prison rapes. (Source: Ezra Wolfe under a CC-BY-SA 2.0 license)
We have a story of Cajun injustice, in the form of prison rape of the worst kind. In Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, a prison guard by the name of Angelo Vickers repeatedly raped a 14-year-old female juvenile inmate at the local juvenile detention over a period that started six years ago. Vickers pled guilty and is serving a 7-year sentence for molesting a minor, his imprisonment part of a wider sweep of the Terrebonne prison in 2010 by the Justice Department that uncovered use of isolation cells and unsupervised prison guards, among other forms of prison corruption.
Now the inmate, who is 20 and remains anonymous, is suing Terrebonne Parish Consolidated Government and Vickers in a civil suit. Emotionally traumatized, she claims that parish officials covered up the incident and did nothing to protect her from Vickers, and is seeking damages. In response, prison officials denied that, despite Vickers' imprisonment, the sex was rape, saying that there was no way Vickers could have had sex with the victim without her cooperation. Parish officials even went so far as to argue that "these girls in the detention center are not Little Miss Muffin." The purpose of this is to minimize the amount of damages Terrebonne Parish is liable for in the court proceedings.
As many locals have attested, there are so many things wrong with this, one does not know where to begin. The most basic problem with this is that what happened to the inmate, regardless of whether there was consent or not, still counts as statutory rape under Louisiana state. To make the "consent" argument undermines state criminal law. Secondly, Terrebonne Parish's use of what is essentially a "jailbait" argument represents not only a despicable form of slut-shaming, but misses the point entirely on why we imprison juveniles: To attempt rehabilitation, not overtly punish for whatever crimes they committed.
Finally, that Terrebonne Parish believes it possible for a young teen to be capable of consenting to sexual relations in a prison setting is incredulous. Even adult inmates are not in a real position to consent to sexual relations to prison guards, simply because of the established dominant role of the guard over the inmate. It does not help matters that staffers caught raping inmates are often let off on the simple ground that the victims were inmates. That one expects a young teen in that setting to be able to consent to anything with full understanding of the consequences arrogantly assumes that prison is equivalent to the real world in social structure, and that children are adults. There is nothing that makes Terrebonne Parish's argument defensible, and the only way it could work is if the judge prefers to defer to the Parish's authority.