Prison guard fights 'inconceivable' practice
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Administrators let offenders at one of Iowa's most dangerous prison units watch violent and sexually explicit movies and TV shows for years, despite repeated complaints from a female officer who said it encouraged inmates to sexually harass her.
Murderers, sexual predators and other men housed at a unit for mentally ill inmates at the maximum-security state prison in Fort Madison were allowed to watch movies such as "Deranged," a horror film that includes a scene in which a woman is beaten, raped, hung upside down and skinned. Among other movies inmates watched were "Delta of Venus," an erotic film; "Coffey," which shows sadism and attempted rape; and "Cruel Intentions," records show.
Despite correctional officer Kristine Sink's complaints, administrators told her not to turn off the movies or shows. When she did, they accused her of insubordination, according to department records that Sink provided to The Associated Press. One warden blamed Sink for causing problems by complaining, and another supervisor suggested her outfits — a standard-issue uniform — were enticing inmates.
Sink said she has fought a lonely battle under four wardens against movies that caused inmates to become sexually aggressive — through "10 years of misery." She filed a lawsuit Nov. 30 against prison officials alleging sexual harassment, discrimination and workplace retaliation, seeking an unspecified amount of damages.
"It's inconceivable. If I had not lived through it myself, I wouldn't believe this," she said.
Sink, who started at the prison in 2003 after the factory where she had been working shut down, said the movies played multiple times a day for a week on a television in a common area where 45 inmates could watch. Some inmates would openly masturbate and make sexually harassing comments to her.
Sink said that when prison officials finally acted on her complaints in September 2011 by largely barring movies with sexually explicit content, inmates blamed her and subjected her to a torrent of insults and threats to beat or even kill her. One threw urine on her. Despite the threats, Sink said her supervisors refused to move her to a job where she wouldn't be in contact with inmates for more than a year. She was finally moved to a desk job last month, after she filed her lawsuit.