Erika Mayer’s viewpoint on prison rape is barely half the story (On the wrong side of the bars, 07/30/2009).

In fact, the majority of prison sexual encounters occur not between male guards and women prisoners but between female guards and male prisoners, according to ABC news (Prison of Passion, 04/09/2007).

It is difficult to know the percentage of these encounters that are truly consensual, but they are illegal in all states and a felony in some. I don’t know the law in Michigan. By far the most common rapes in prisons are between male prisoners.

In short, the problem is widespread and cannot be blamed on male guards without looking at the whole picture. The reason we have opposite gender guards in prisons is because of federal equal employment laws that elevate employment rights above privacy considerations. Male guards have sued and won the right to be in women prisons just as female guards are in male prisons. Mayer’s solution to ban male guards in female prisons is not legal in this country.

Joel Sherman

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