History of POSRIP
Russell D. Smith
May 10, 2004 12:58 PDT
POSRIP was formed in August 1980 by Russell D. Smith in St. Louis, MO.
It was formed from the remnants of the National Gay Prisoners Union,
based in the United States Penitentiary at Marion, Illinois and the
International Committee to Free Russell Smith, based in St. Louis. In
1982 Smith, who was suffering from Rape Trauma Disorder (RTD),
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Bi-Polar Disorder, went into
seclusion. In 1983, Tom Cahill inherited POSRIP and its resources, and
kept it alive as a grass-roots organization. Later in the 1980's,
Stephen Donaldson took POSRIP's resources and formed Stop Prisoner Rape,
Inc. (SPR). He kindly gave the credit of forming SPR to Smith, as did
also SPR's second president, Don Collins. Collins retired and Cahill
became the third president of SPR, at which time he changed the purpose
of SPR from that of POSRIP. Smith re-emerged in early 2003 and urged
SPR to return to the goals of POSRIP. SPR refused to do so.
SPR is a news organization that works to bring attention to prison rape.
SPR is also a political organization that fights for the constitutional
rights of rape victims to be recognized. SPR also fights for enactment
of laws and regulations recognizing such rights. SPR is to be commended
for this work, and its work is supported by POSRIP.
POSRIP's position is and has always been that there are laws against
rape and that it is to the benefit of prison officials and officials
generally to ignore such laws. Pursuit of laws and regulations by
POSRIP would be a fruitless exercise. POSRIP's position is that the
prison officials foster rape and will as a norm prevent any information
about rape to be known. POSRIP supports SPR's efforts to keep a
spotlight on these matters. However, POSRIP points to Abu Ghraib as an
example of what is regularly happening in the U.S. prisons; the only
difference is that the soldiers at Abu Ghraib did not know that they had
to keep it hidden. The trainer was a weekend soldier who works in the
Virginia state prisons. The trainer received his training from
practicing on people like me.
SPR is a fine organization for what it does, and POSRIP recognizes the
need for such an organization. But SPR has ceased to represent the
actual needs and interests of prisoners. Victims of prison rape need an
avenue to resort to therapy. Prison therapists are paid by and report
all interviews to the prison authorities who foster the rape-friendly
environment. An alternative service for therapy is required, even if it
has to work without the knowledge of officials who want to keep the
SPR only accepts certain "cases". POSRIP intends to publish all cases
where a prisoner has made contact. Further, POSRIP will not practice
shunning of those who want to help the prisoner rape victims. POSRIP
will maintain an open page for contact by anyone who desires to assist
prisoner rape victims. Russell D. Smith is currently in the process of
publishing a book that focuses on the prison environment as a reality in
the United States. It's resemblance to the Abu Ghraib prison system is
apparent in this book. POSRIP will accept the assistance of persons who
have never had to do prison time, such as Tom Cahill, who was a weekend
prisoner who suffered rape without the rest of the garbage that
prisoners have to endure. However, ex-convicts who understand the prion
environment as it really is are the ones who will be most useful in
Finally, POSRIP does not encourage the reporting of rapists by name
and/or "checking-in" into "protective custody" for several reasons. The
first reason is that people are murdered for reporting the rapists.
Secondly, there is no such thing as a fool-proof "protective custody."
To encourage a person to "check-in" is to underestimate the devious
nature of most convicts. The best-case scenario from Smith's personal
knowledge is the case of three check-ins in USP-Terre Haute when one had
to pay $5.00 per week for a mayonnaise sandwich just to not be scalded
to death in his protection cell and the other two had to reside in cells
with rapists. The worst-case scenario was in 1980 in the New Mexico
prison riot when every "check-in" was brought out and tortured to death.