The U.S. Justice Department has issued a new set of guidelines designed to stem prison rape, which "may afflict one out of every 10 prisoners," according to the NYT. The guidelines are mostly basic standards of staffing, planning, and other common-sense measures. But I submit to you that the following bit of the overview is as bracing a section as you're likely to find in a government report:

For too long, incidents of sexual abuse against incarcerated persons have not been taken as seriously as sexual abuse outside prison walls. In popular culture, prison rape is often the subject of jokes; in public discourse, it has been at times dismissed by some as an inevitable—or even deserved—consequence of criminality.

But sexual abuse is never a laughing matter, nor is it punishment for a crime. Rather, it is a crime, and it is no more tolerable when its victims have committed crimes of their own. Prison rape can have severe consequences for victims, for the security of correctional facilities, and for the safety and well-being of the communities to which nearly all incarcerated persons will eventually return.

Zero tolerance policies + Mandatory minimums + Prison rape crisis + Rampant recidivism + Funding cutbacks + Public indifference = God Bless America. Better solve that prison rape crisis since we know that all of the prisoners will be coming back to these prisons again. (Prison is a prisoner's most promised community, in America.)

[The fundamental inhumanity of a pundit or public figure correlates directly with how often they joke about this issue. Photo: AP]