Justice

'Prison Bae' Ignores a Terrifying Reality For Women in Prison

Remember Jeremy Meeks, the "hot felon" whose sparkly-eyed mugshot went viral two years ago?

It landed him an agent, a verified Instagram account, and won the hearts of social media users.

Meeks apparently paved the way for another viral mugshot that people are calling attractive. This time, it belongs to a 24-year-old Arkansas woman dubbed #PrisonBae on social media.

Sarah Seawright's mugshot surfaced after the Tumblr page Ugly Plastic posted it on the social media platform. Seawright was charged with "aggravated robbery, kidnapping, first degree battery, hindering prosecution, and tampering with physical evidence, according to Pulaski County records," Oklahoma City NBC affiliate KFOR reported. She reportedly didn't show up to a court appearance tied to a 2014 arrest for driving without insurance and careless driving.

People joked about these charges on social media, saying that her looks excuse potential bad behavior. Some have even compared her appearance to "Game of Thrones" star Emilia Clarke, Esquire's Sexiest Woman Alive in 2015.

While people have joked that they would let Seawright assault and/or kidnap them, it is important to remember that female inmates actually face real sexual violence in prison.

In 2011, correctional administrators reported 8,763 cases of sexual abuse against prisoners, an increase from an estimated 6,241 in 2005, according to a 2014 report by the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics. Female staffers committed more than half of the "substantiated incidents of staff sexual misconduct" and 26 percent of all incidents of staff sexual harassment, according to a 2014 release from the Bureau of Justice Statistics:

"Among all substantiated incidents between 2009 and 2011, the majority (84 percent) of those perpetrated by female staff involved a sexual relationship that 'appeared to be willing,' compared to 37 percent of those perpetrated by male staff. Any sexual contact between inmates and staff is illegal, regardless of whether it 'appeared to be willing.'"

Sexual violence often goes unreported, especially in prison.

Jamie Fellner, a senior advisor for human rights organization Human Rights Watch, highlighted this issue after the release of a 2007 report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The 2007 report found that 4.5 percent of state and federal prisoners surveyed reported sexual victimization within that year.

“When nearly one in 20 prisoners reports being raped or sexually abused behind bars, it is clear that prison authorities are not doing enough to prevent these serious crimes,” Fellner said. "Prison rape is not inevitable, but it is all too predictable when prison authorities fail to enforce a zero-tolerance policy on sexual abuse."

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