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There are many rights people forfeit when they are incarcerated; among these is the right to sexual expression. Incarcerated people are punished inconsistently, severely, and arbitrarily for touching themselves. In 2006, Terry Lee Alexander was masturbating alone in a bunk in Broward County, Florida when a female deputy monitoring his cell from a control room over one hundred feet away wrote him up. Alexander was convicted of exposure and sentenced to sixty days in jail. In 2000, a female guard saw Freddie Williams, a then-incarcerated person in a South Carolina prison, turned sideways in his shower towards the wall, stroking his penis. He was subsequently convicted of sexual misconduct. Though he appealed and insisted he had not intentionally exposed himself, he did not prevail and consequently lost 240 good time credits.

This post was originally published on the Cardozo Journal of Equal Rights and Social Justice website on February 27, 2023. The original post can be accessed via the Archived Link button above.

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