Department Of Correction: Pelvic Exams Can Be Refused
6:31 AM, Jun 11, 2010
As the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division continues to investigate conditions at an Indiana girls' prison, a nurse who worked there said she raised concerns to the company that handled medical services for the facility, to no avail.The nurse, who wishes only to be identified as Shellie, worked at the Indianapolis Juvenile Correctional Facility from 2008 to 2009.Shellie said her top concern was that a male doctor performed pelvic exams on the juvenile offenders, 6News' Joanna Massee reported."Everyone had to have a pelvic exam, and I was totally against it. It didn't matter how old they were, didn't matter if they were sexually active or not," she said. "They had to do this, and it was done by a male."Shellie said she worried that some girls with a history of sexual abuse could be traumatized by the exams."The girls come from different backgrounds, and they could've been abused in their homes, or wherever they had come from, and so then you are subjecting them to a really personal exam like that by a man," Shellie said. "I didn't think it was right."Shellie added that it took too long for the facility to handle medical emergencies. The nurse said she saw one inmate have a psychotic episode and that the girl was left in her filthy cell naked, chanting and exhibiting self-destructive behavior."She eventually, in the end, ended up being transferred to a mental facility, but it took, seemed like, an act of Congress to have that done," Shellie said.The nurse said she questioned other cases."From a physical force (officers subduing her), a girl did have a fractured shoulder. She didn't get transported, either, until the next day," Shellie said.The nurse also detailed conversations she had with some of the offenders."They talked about having sex with the officers. They talked about having sex with each other," she said.Shellie said she saw hickeys on the girls' necks.A January report released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics revealed that the Indianapolis Juvenile Correctional Facility had a higher rate of sexual victimization than many facilities across the nation.The Indianapolis prison no longer serves as a girls' facility. The female inmates were moved to Madison Juvenile Correctional Facility at the end of 2009.Doug Garrison, a spokesman for the Department of Correction, said girls are allowed to refuse pelvic exams."Such exams are offered, but not required, because many of the juveniles are at risk for STDs and HPV," Garrison said. "Can you imagine the uproar from both the patient and the public if we were to force them to submit to such an intrusive exam?"A former Department of Correction employee, speaking anonymously, echoed Shellie's concerns.The former employee said the girls did not know they could refuse the exam or ask for a woman to perform the procedure.