Thursday, December 24, 2009

Physical Injury

Physical injury, sounds like a redundancy?

There is a requirement in federal law that an inmate who's been sodomized who subsequently seeks to sue the prison and officials in charge of his safety prove "physical injury."  The New York Times in an editorial, Combating Prisoner Abuse addresses the absurdity of the requirement; and, supporting legislation proposed by Rep. Robert Scott, Democraat of Virginia.

I encountered this requirement while representing victims of sexual assaults at work who sought compensation through workers' compensation systems.  It's a ridiculous rule that I know to be a vestige of the hyper-concern that people with "non-physical" injuries can fake claims to get compensation.  Let's be clear, fraud happens all the time.  Sometimes the perpetrators of fraud are Judges, lawyers, and law enforcement as I document, here, all the time.  The notion that we should not compesate genuine injuries arising out of sexual assault because there might be fraud is sickening.  Surely, we are sufficiently sophisticated in this country to work through efforts to game the system in order to compensate truly traumatized individuals. 

Depriving someone of their freedom, their family and friends, incarcerating them with other criminals seems to me to be adequate punishment; adding sodomy; that's probably one of those things contemplated under "cruel and unusual" punishment, well... maybe not for 'Nino.

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