The Psychological Torture We're Imparting On Prisoners Is Only Making The Country More Dangerous

The Psychological Torture We're Imparting On Prisoners Is Only Making The Country More Dangerous

The lie we've been sold to feel better about torturing people to death is crumbling right before us.

Prison is the closest institution I can think of that exemplifies the term "necessary evil." Few people would argue for the complete abolition of prisons. They serve a need that our society, and every society, has had since the beginning of time. But there has got to be a better way to do it than what we're doing now.

What we're doing now can be summarized in one heartbreaking sentence: the U.S. prison system is harvesting a group of mentally ill individuals solely prepared to reenter the system somewhere down the line.

The current framework for prisons in the United States relies on psyche-breaking strategies that inevitably cause long-term psychological damage, not only ruining the life of the imprisoned individual but also ruining the chance of that individual’s successful reentry into life beyond prison walls.

Often times, when I start this conversation with those around me, they say something along the lines of, "Who cares? They're just prisoners," or, "If you don't want to be there, don't break the law." This sentiment that prison shouldn't be a nice place and its frightening environment is a deterrent for crime is messed up in a lot of ways - but the one of greatest interest to people who believe this might be that the current state of prisons is not successful at reducing crime.

Success within the legal system can be defined by the rates of recidivism within it—the rates at which former prisoners relapse into criminal behavior. In the United States in 2005, 76.7 percent of released prisoners were rearrested within five years of their release.

Does that sound like success?

Maybe this is what it's about. Maybe even if you don't care about the treatment of inmates behind prison walls, you care whether or not that treatment is doing what we've been conditioned to believe is the goal: keeping our country safe.

Because of the evidence that psychologically traumatic conditions lead to negative behavior, it's not a jump to say that the psychological effects of living inside a United States prison, including development/exacerbation of mental illness, contribute to the increasingly high rates of recidivism inside the U.S. legal system.

Statisticians from the Bureau of Justice (BJS) led a study in 2004 on inmates in state and federal correctional facilities. The results revealed that 56 percent of prisoners had a mental health problem based on criteria specified in the DSM-IV. These numbers are even more concerning when compared to the average prevalence of mental illness in the general United States population—18.2 percent. This research points to the idea that mental illness is not only something that leads to imprisonment but something that comes as a result of imprisonment.

A final sentiment on the fatality of mental illness inside prisons is the fact that in 2011, suicides accounted for 5.5 percent of deaths in United States prisons—that year, the BJS reported that 185 inmates took their own lives. This research clearly points to the fact that the United States prison system is not doing an efficient job at preventing, identifying or treating mental illness, and the consequences are fatal.

While these statistics are clearly ethically disturbing, a greater truth remains: not only is the prison system harvesting mental illness and the unethical treatment of individuals, but it is also perpetuating an ineffective system for reducing crime rates. This is best illustrated by the rates of recidivism in this country. In the United States, the average recidivism rate for released prisoners is 43.3 percent. However, according to a report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, about 68 percent of 405,000 prisoners released in 2005 were rearrested for a new crime within three years of their release, and 77 percent were rearrested within five years.

We're human. We make mistakes. Yeah, some people make really, really big ones. And some of us are luckier than others. But I can't—and I wonder if you can—defend a system that unfairly penalizes people who have made the same mistakes I have to the point of being driven to death.

I believe a system that is both ethically and pragmatically sound is a possibility when the focus moves from punishment to rehabilitation.

In my mind, this looks like an end to solitary confinement and mandatory minimums, less severe sentencing for lower-level drug offenses, treatment for addiction as opposed to imprisonment in cases of drug offenses, and greater concern for the rehabilitation of inmates as opposed to their punishment, specifically aimed at greater psychological care.

With new information concerning the disturbing psychological effects of the nation’s prisons and the inefficiency—legally, financially, and morally—of the system, it is irresponsible to overlook what is happening inside prisons and inside prisoners. If United States’ prisons continue to source and pursue psychological effects in its inmates, including severe mental illness, the 68 percent recidivism rate will continue—and possibly increase.

Does that sound like success to anyone?

Cover Image Credit: YouTube

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No, I Don't Have To Tell You I'm Trans Before Dating You

Demanding trans people come out to potential partners is transphobic.

In 2014, Jennifer Laude, a 26-year-old Filipina woman, was brutally murdered after having sex with a U.S. marine. The marine in question, Joseph Scott Pemberton, strangled her until she was unconscious and then proceeded to drown her in a toilet bowl.

Understandably, this crime triggered a lot of outrage. But while some were outraged over the horrific nature of the crime, many others were outraged by a different detail in the story. That was because Jennifer Laude had done the unspeakable. She was a trans woman and had not disclosed that information before having sex with Pemberton. So in the minds of many cis people, her death was the price she paid for not disclosing her trans status. Here are some of the comments on CNN's Facebook page when the story broke.

As a trans person, I run into this attitude all the time. I constantly hear cis people raging about how a trans person is "lying" if they don't come out to a potential partner before dating them. Pemberton himself claimed that he felt like he was "raped" because Laude did not come out to him. Even cis people that fashion themselves as "allies" tend to feel similar.

Their argument is that they aren't not attracted to trans people, so they should have a right to know if a potential partner is trans before dating them. These people view transness as a mere physical quality that they just aren't attracted to.

The issue with this logic is that the person in question is obviously attracted to trans people, or else they wouldn't be worried about accidentally going out with one. So these people aren't attracted to trans people because of some physical quality, they aren't attracted to trans people because they are disgusted by the very idea of transness.

Disgust towards trans people is ingrained in all of us from a very early age. The gender binary forms the basis of European societies. It establishes that there are men and there are women, and each has a specific role. For the gender binary to have power, it has to be rigid and inflexible. Thus, from the day we are born, we are taught to believe in a very static and strict form of gender. We learn that if you have a penis, you are a man, and if you have a vagina, you are a woman. Trans people are walking refutations of this concept of gender. Our very existence threatens to undermine the gender binary itself. And for that, we are constantly demonized. For example, trans people, mainly women of color, continue to be slaughtered in droves for being trans.

The justification of transphobic oppression is often that transness is inherently disgusting. For example, the "trans panic" defense still exists to this day. This defense involves the defendant asking for a lesser sentence after killing a trans person because they contend that when they found out the victim was trans, they freaked out and couldn't control themselves. This defense is still legal in every state but California.

And our culture constantly reinforces the notion that transness is undesirable. For example, there is the common trope in fictional media in which a male protagonist is "tricked" into sleeping with a trans woman. The character's disgust after finding out is often used as a punchline.

Thus, not being attracted to trans people is deeply transphobic. The entire notion that someone isn't attracted to a group of very physically diverse group of people because they are trans is built on fear and disgust of trans people. None of this means it is transphobic to not be attracted to individual trans people. Nor is it transphobic to not be attracted to specific genitals. But it is transphobic to claim to not be attracted to all trans, people. For example, there is a difference between saying you won't go out with someone for having a penis and saying you won't go out with someone because they're trans.

So when a cis person argues that a trans person has an obligation to come out to someone before dating them, they are saying trans people have an obligation to accommodate their transphobia. Plus, claiming that trans people are obligated to come out reinforces the idea that not being attracted to trans people is reasonable. But as I've pointed out, not being attracted to trans people supports the idea that transness is disgusting which is the basis for transphobic oppression.

The one scenario in which I would say a trans person should disclose their trans status is if they are going to have sex with someone and are unsure if their partner is attracted to whatever genitals they may have. In that case, I think it's courteous for a trans person to come out to avoid any awkwardness during sex. But even then, a trans person isn't "lying" if they don't come out and their partner is certainly not being "raped."

It is easy to look at the story of Jennifer Laude and claim that her death was due to the actions of one bigot. But it's more complicated than that. Pemberton was the product of a society that told him that disgust towards trans people was reasonable and natural. So when he found out that he accidentally slept with a trans woman, he killed her.

Every single cis person that says that trans people have to come out because they aren't attracted to trans people feeds into the system that caused Jennifer Laude's death. And until those cis people acknowledge their complicity in that system, there will only be more like Jennifer Laude.

SEE ALSO: Yes, You Absolutely Need To Tell Someone You're Trans Before Dating

Cover Image Credit: Nats Getty / Instagram

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10 Men That Will Change Your Mind About Hair Loss

It happens to the best of them, but these men look better with a bald head!


Hair loss is such a common thing for men to face as they get older. As a society, I feel as though we typically frown upon it. This is probably the case due to the amount of hair transplants and hair products to stop hair loss and start hair growth. However, there are some men who can make the hair loss turn into a great thing because of how good they look bald. So, I have found the best looking bald men (in my opinion, of course!) and put them all into one list for your viewing pleasure!


1. Will Smith

First of all, I am extremely bias because I believe that Will Smith is the best looking man on this planet (even my boyfriend knows this!). Second, Will Smith is not always bald, but when he is, he tops the list of all bald men. In his role of Deadshot in Suicide Squad, Will was rocking the bald cut and looked absolutely amazing while doing so. 10/10, would recommend.

Will Smith: Deadshot

2. Idris Elba

Once again, another man that is not usually bald but when he is, he sure does kill. Idris Elba is such a great looking man and has an even better sounding voice. What is better than a man with an accent that looks good bald?

Idris Elbaidris-elba-hairstyle

3. Dwayne Johnson

We all know that the Rock is a favorite among women. He is tall, handsome and has the big strong muscles. Not to mention he plays the sweet father role well and has a great sense of humor. But the most impressive part of him is that he can be bald and pull it off VERY well!

Dwayne Johnson

4. Morris Chestnut

Such a beautiful man with an amazing smile. I am not sure how someone could not love the appearance of Morris Chestnut. Did I mention his smile?

Morris Chestnutmorris-chestnut

5. Shemar Moore

Another man with no hair that steals the show with a great smile is Shemar Moore. His bald head stands out in a great way and I think it would be impossible to have this type of list without Shemar on it.

Shemar Moore

6. Kobe Bryant

Not only is the MVP of basketball but he might be the MVM (most valued man) of the bald men out there! Once again, another beautiful smile. Not to mention, he's extremely talented.

Kobe Bryant

7. LL Cool J

A singer and an actor, representing the best of the bald men out there. Such a beautiful smile (are we seeing a trend here?) and an even better looking man. Could not leave LL Cool J off of this list either.

LL Cool J

8. Tyrese Gibson

Another man who can definitely give a positive view on being bald and losing your hair, Tyrese has been doing the look justice for a long time now.

Tyrese Gibson

9. Vin Diesel

We all know him from the Fast and the Furious, but let's recognize that he is a great looking man, rocking the bald head look. We love the movies and we love him. Go you Vin Diesel, keep rocking out and winning over all of our hearts (and eyes!).

Vin Diesel

10. Common

What common lacks in hair on his head he gains in facial hair. I swear he has one of the best beards ever. Also, those freckles? Hello? So cute!


Hopefully, after seeing as these wonderful men absolutely slaying the bald look, you'll think twice about hair loss (whether you're a man or a woman!).

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