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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Sexual Attacks Investigated At Oklahoma Women's Prison

Lisa Monahan, News 9
Sexual attacks behind prison walls is drawing attention from the U.S. government. And one Oklahoma prison is right at the top of the list for concern.
Mabel Bassett Correctional Center, a 1,200 female inmate facility in Mcloud, topped the list in a federal report on sexual violence in female prisons.
The report indicated there were more reports of prison rapes at Mabel Bassett than anywhere in the country.
"We send people to prison and we punish them for what they've done, but that punishment should not include being victimized, raped, abused by other people behind bars or prison guards," said Pottawatomie County District Attorney Richard Smothermon.
Smothermon prosecutes the sexual assault cases that come out of Mabel Bassett Correctional Center.
"Recently we've gotten kind of an influx of these kinds of cases," he said.

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Although the exact number of cases is unclear, Smothermon referred to the most recent case in his district when asked to testify before a review panel for the Department of Justice in Washington D.C., Thursday.
He pointed to Jamie Baker's case. Baker was a former prison guard at Mabel Bassett who received a 50-year sentence last week, 20 years in prison and 30 on probation, for raping inmates at the facility in 2012.
"A crime is a crime no matter where it happens and the opportunity to help educate other prosecutors, potentially, that we can work to alleviate this with in prisons is certainly a good goal," said Smothermon about testimony to the Prison Rape Elimination Act Committee or P.R.E.A.
He told the review panel that 11 victims from the Baker case also filed suit against the state, claiming they were raped and forced to perform sex acts on Baker and other prison guards.
"We would prosecute these types of cases harshly if they happened in someone's bedroom. So, we should not negate that prosecution just because the victim happens to be behind bars."
Smothermon said he has been working with the new director for Oklahoma Department of Corrections, Robert Patton.
Patton did not comment on the issue. A spokesperson for D.O.C., Jerry Massie, said Tuesday, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections will not make a comment due to a pending lawsuit filed by the inmates.

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