Warning: This is a little heavy, a little morbid and definitely not the healthy tech fare that you might be accustomed to on this blog.

Found this excellent article on prison rape when following one of Jason’s links to an article about condemned prisoners last meals. The latter is interesting, particularly some insight on how your last meal on earth can be budgeted into something resembling a badly done McDonalds burger. The former is downright disturbing and makes a number of salient points, particularly about how society doesn’t seem to regard prison rape as anything out of the ordinary and nowhere near as taboo as “normal” rape.

I started to think about how death penalties and prison rape really are connected these days. With the prevalence of HIV/AIDS, particularly amongst those with lower education levels (statistically more likely to end up in jail, however bad that is), there are many sentences which these days amount to death sentences. My cousin got done for drunk driving in South Africa a few months ago — he managed to escape a custodial sentence, but afterwards his lawyer basically said to him “I hope that knocked some sense into you — if you’d been sent to prison you’d have been raped within 5 minutes and you’d have HIV now … for what, a few beers?”

Good point. Downright horrifying thought, but a good point. There was a similar storyline on ER a couple of weeks ago, when a young Hispanic man had been sent to prison for breaking into his stepfather’s house when he locked him out. He’d been repeatedly gang raped and his HIV had already developed into AIDS.

It amazes me that this is not a political issue. That more people have not realised that sending someone to jail on a minor charge, to somewhere with overcrowding and sexual abuse, basically amounts to the death penalty. In fact, with the length of time so many seem to spend on death row in those places it is still legal, many of those condemned to death probably live _longer_ than those send in on a misdemeanour and infected.

Perhaps this isn’t a political issue because prisoners don’t vote. But I think it should be. If we’re sending people to their deaths for minor crimes, how much respect for human rights can we be showing?