September 7th, 2016
In keeping with the criminal justice system’s typically degrading treatment of women, an Oregon woman has been kept in jail purely so the court can ensure that she will testify against a prison guard who is accused of sexually abusing her.
He, meanwhile, is out on bail.
The woman, who pleaded to be freed and promised to come back and testify, says the abuse occurred when she was in the prison’s mental health ward, reports the Oregonian.
“He manipulated and took advantage of me and I felt obligated. Degraded,” she told the judge. “I want to see him be held accountable for what he did to me and some other people. That’s what I want.”
Her lawyer told the newspaper that her client was shackled during the hearing. “She was in chains. Belly chains and shackles. And she’s the victim.”
Oregon doesn’t restrict how long a witness can be held in custody. One witness was held in jail for 900 days so he could testify in a murder trial.
Recently The Influence covered a report on the rise in female jail inmates and how woefully unprepared or unwilling jails are to deal with their needs. According to the report, “86 percent report having experienced sexual violence in their lifetime, 77 percent report partner violence, and 60 percent report caregiver violence.”
Compounding that trauma is sexual abuse by guards and even regular jail procedures like body searches. And, one would think, being forced to sit in jail without having committed a crime while your alleged attacker is free.