United States

PRISONERS' VOICES

I would say the occurrence of a person being violently raped like I was is rare. Most often the person is coerced into submitting to sexual activity slowly. Each time it progressively gets worse in the extent to which it is taken. Before you know it you've gone from washing personal laundry to wearing lipstick.
J.W., Texas, 7/5/98

When I was on the Robertson Unit I was rape by 4-5 blacks I was in my cell and they fell in and said are you going fight or fuck I said I going fight they gang up on me and forced me down and forced oral and anal sex and they did repeatly about 9 times they also beat me up pretty bad I was also forced by the mexicans for anal sex when I was in the dorms for protection. I didn't report none of this cause of fear of getting hurt they hurt me pretty bad when they raped me.
J.S., Texas, 9/1/98

Prison rape has left me a different person. In jail there's no help really. I have to deal with it on my own.
E.K., New Mexico, 9/10/98

Sorry for taking so long to write, but I have been having a lot of trouble. I'm 16teen. I got into a fight and I got a broke bone in my arm. It don't hurt that bad. Now about the trouble I have been having. I have had 2 people try to rape me. I have been in 8 fights' and got beat by the officers 4 times . . . . I have tryed to go to P.C. [protective custody] but they wouldn't let me.
R.P., Arkansas, 9/14/98

Lt. B.W. had me identify the assailant in front of approximately "20" other inmates . . . which immediately put my safty & life in danger as a "snitch" for telling on the other inmate who sexually assaulted me . . . . Prison officials claimed Nothing happen yet they transfered the assailant who sexually assaulted Me. Showing the officials guilt. But by the Prison officials trying to Place Me Back in Population after I identified the assailant in front of 20 inmates clearly placed my life in danger Because of the "snitch" concept.
D.A., Texas, 9/18/98

[My brother] Chris has been the victem of numerous assaults by various groups of inmates; namely, African American's, some belonging to a gang known as the "Crips." These individuals have repeatedly tried to force their extortion demands, and sexual advances upon Chris. Whenever he resists these demands/advances, he gets beaten down severely. Incidently, Chris has also served time in the California Dept of Corrections (CDC). While he was in the CDC, he was unwillingly made a member of the California Aryan Brotherhood; which is a long time rival of the Texas Aryan Brotherhood! Some of Chris' assailants are members of his rival gang in Texas (AB). Chris has suffered from several serious injuries from these assaults, involving members of the Crips and the Texas AB both (e.g., broken leg, broken nose, broken teeth, lacerations, concussions, contusions, trauma, threats, etc.) . . . . Many of these attacks occurred in the presence of TDCJ-ID correctional officers, yet none of the officers would intervene on Chris' behalf . . . . There are many young caucasian men in TDCJ-ID, that are being victomized like Chris. I believe that the answer, in part, is "racial segregation"! And for the officials to take such complaints . . . More Seriously!
S.K., Texas, 9/18/98

This letter is about rape but not as defined by law, "the forceful taking," it is more towards "psychological manipulation." It happened to me . . . . I made the excellent victim. I'm white, 27, non-violent, loner, who receives little help from the outside ie family, and low self-esteem. Other inmates saw me as a target. I'm young, good-looking, have some femine mannerisms and naive. Some wanted to be my "friend" to "look out for me." But they just wanted to use me. One inmate would stake claim to you by becoming your "friend" hanging out with you all the time. In reality, he was saying "don't touch he's mine." Its a gradually process that you become dependent on this person whether its financial, physical or emotional. But sooner or later there comes a time when he wants a return in his investment, a sexual return . . . . You don't want to ruin your "friendship" by saying no to something you don't want to do because then you don't get the "support" financial or emotional from your friend. So you do what he wants, I did, and that's how you get hooked.
P.L., Florida, 9/27/98

While I have never been raped or forced into any homosexual activity, during my first prison sentence I did encounter some subtle sexual pressure to engage in it. . . . The game goes like this - the prey is usually a new arrival into the prison who has but a relatively short time to do, who is young and naive. The predator will befried the new arrival but at the same time he will have some of his partners confronting the new arrival with intimidation and threats of sexual violence. Once the new inmate is pressured hard enough the predator will make an advance towards him with a threat if rejected that he'll be at the mercy of the predators friends unless the new arrival becomes his "boy," then he'll be protected and no one else will harrass him.
G.L., Florida, 9/28/98

The one playing the male role refuses to see himself as a homosexual he see himself as a real man with strenght. He doesn't realize he's giving into his baser desires is really a sick perverted weakness. The one who plays the female role is known as a "baby." The "real" men like to get together to brag about their conquests, compare and trade information about all of the "babies" in the prison system, or spread malicious rumors about those babies or the straight guys who spurn them.
G.L., Florida, 9/28/98

I am a self-confessed homosexual . . . . I have witnessed on numerous occassions many rapes forcefully and through manipulation. I have been a victim of both on a couple of occassions. . . . Homosexual harassment in the Fl D.O.C. is common. Every day I experience some type of harassment from officers and inmates alike. Name calling, joking, Aids jokes, stereo-typed as having Aids etc. . . . Rape is widespread in F.D.O.C., however most of the sexual targeting is done through manipulation and putting fear into the weak timid young guys.
D.L., Florida, 9/29/98

The two people that tryed to rape me they wher both black they were alot biger then me they wher both G.D. [Gangster Disciples, a gang] they wher from Little Rock . . . . When I was in B pod I had 3 dude's coming to me that said they was the only thing that was keeping me from getting raped, and they wanted to jack off and look at me. The pod I'm in now I had 2 people come to me and put a ink pen to my neck and tell me that if I didn't let them jack off on me they were going to rape me. I told the officer but they didn't do any thing about it.
R.P., Arkansas, 10/5/98 (age 16)

Why does prison rape occur? . . . . There are a number of white "Peckerwoods" see temporary sexual fulfillment, such as blow-jobs or anal sex as temporarily acceptable. Not me. I suggest it's homosexual.
B.H., Oregon, 11/2/98

As cops look the other way on tatooing, traficing and trading, consental sexual activities they begin to look the other way on other things also. They begin ignoring what they see in all aspects. If it's an assault they try to patch it over so they don't have to do the paperwork.
R.B., Texas, 11/10/98

I was 17 years old and weighed 133 pounds when I first came to the TDC ID back in January of 1992. While I was going through the process to be assigned to a unit many inmates would whistle at me and tell me Im a convicts dream "girl" come true.
Other inmates would tell me "I hope you can fight" because "they" are going to "check" me and see if I would stay down fur mine and if I don't well I will be wearing cool offs or using colored pencils for make up.
Many inmates would tell me horror stories about prison and "they" would tell me I would probably go to Furgason or Beto one [units]. What those inmates were doing was putting the fear of God into me telling me Im going to get beat down probably clicked on to break me and in my young mind I know Im going to break because I don't want to go through that kind of pain or abuse.
. . . . The cellie I had [at my first unit] was asking me what am I going to do. I said what do you mean? He said are you going to fight, fuck, or bust a sixty. . . . So that night I spent there I was so scared I couldn't eat sleep or barely walk. . . . I was thinking I rather kill myself than go through all that torture and pain and misery. So the closet thing I came to was the razor I had so I broke it down and sliced my wrist. I cut my wrist 9 different times my blood just splurting out and about. But it just wasn't enough time to do what I wanted.
. . . . Well before long one day I went to the shower somehow I was all by myself and [a Mexican inmate who was a weightlifter] came in there and saw me well thats when he said "you know what time it is." I said what are you talking about. He said he wants me to give him oral sex or he'll beat me down and take me the way he wants to. I started crying because of what he was doing so I told him no so he started knocking me around and said I am going to do it. He just kept on so with shame in myself I gave him oral sex and later he forced his self upon me from the other end.
I put up with that for about a year but I was scared to tell anyone of staff because I was afraid all they would call me is a weak homosexual and not help me so I kept it to myself. . . .
[Later in another unit] I met my cellie [X]. . . a dude that became my problem. Well while I was studying him he was telling me if any one trys to make me ride let him know and he would take care of it. No sooner than he said that a big black dude they call big moe . . . came to my door. . . . . No sooner than that my cellie jumped in the conversation while Mosely was trying to get my cell door open, and [X] said that it was all good we don't need no problems. So Mosely said Oh hes with you and left. . . .
[X] said Im riding with him and if I don't like that we can fight then Ill let my homeboys have you. If you don't want to go through that then this is the deal. "You will clean the house," he said, have my clothes clean and when Im ready to get my "freak" no arguments or there will be a punishment! I will, he said, let my homeboys have you or Ill just sale you off. Do we have an understanding? With fear, misery, and confusion inside me . . . I said yes with a faint sound. Then he said one more thing. He told me if I ever run to staff for help about my situation Im in he would kill me, beat me to the bloody, or have me killed and later I found out all these dudes are the Crips. . . .
The next cellie I had which was a small but cool Mexican dude that didn't give me any problems so I was alright for that time. . . .
After four months of going through so much shame, hatred and abuse I didn't know what I should do with myself.
. . . . Well before long I ended up talking to a Sargent. Who was Sargent [D.] that work 2nd shift from 2 pm to 10 pm. When he took me into the office the first thing he said was a sarcastic sounding, "whats the problem someone makein you ride tryin to sell you to someone, and you come to tell on someone." I didn't know how to explain my situation to him very well because of what remarks he was giving me making me feel like a weak punk telling me Im not the only one here with the same problem.
G.H., Texas 12/1/98

Though I am 5'10" in height, I am a small person weighing only about 140 pounds. In addition, I am gay and quite obviously effeminate and my mannerisms attract other more aggressive prisoners who seek to sexually abuse my body. I am unable to adequately defend myself from muscle-bound individuals . . . . When I entered the TDCJ-ID this time on or about May 4, 1994, the mainframe classification computer recommended that I be placed back in safekeeping . . . . Despite the mainframe computer's recommendation to place me back in safekeeping, the Clemens Unit officials overrode that recommendation and placed me in the regular general population. As soon as I arrived in my housing area the aggressive prisoners came to me and tried to pressure me into giving in to their sexual demands. I was beaten three times within the first month, each time because I refused to "ride" with certain individuals, or because I wouldn't "choose a man," as they referred to it. On each occasion in which another prisoner threatened or assaulted me I immediately informed officials. Instead of realizing the problem that I was going to be prone to assaults and sexual assaults in the future, that I was not in the appropriate classification assignment prison officials charged me with disciplinary offenses of fighting as a result of my futile attempts to defend myself. Prison officials in the TDCJ-ID customarily charge both inmates involved in a physical altercation with disciplinary offenses, regardless of who was the culprit, and regardless of who came out the victor. On each occasion I was the one who was attacked and beaten, yet I received disciplinary offenses nevertheless . . . . Prison officials would treat me in the infirmary, bandage me up, and then release me right back to the same area(s) in which the assaults occurred. My personal property was stolen from me on several occasions and I was eventually forced to give in to inmates' desires for sex because prison officials would not protect me to prevent the assaults from recurring.
J.C., Texas, 12/16/98

[While I was in a temporary cell], officers allowed another inmate who was not assigned to my cell to enter and stay in my cell for two days with me. This was two days of living hell in which he raped and abused my body. He threatened to kill me if I let officials know. However, I began kicking the cell door anyway after the second day and officials came to my aid. I informed officials of what had transpired the previous two days, but it was logged that I merely "alleged" that I had been sexually assaulted and raped. The inmate was charged only with the disciplinary offense of threatening me, he got away with the sexual assaults a much more serious offense unpunished.
J.C., Texas, 12/16/98

More recently on [another] unit, I was assaulted by a man about 6'7" and weighing approximately 280 pounds. He grabbed me by the throat and threw me a few feet to the ground. He did this because I had my shirt off in the day room while in public. It was as if he felt that a "girl" isn't supposed to have "her" shirt off in public. Yet, I told him that I was a man just like him, at which time he committed the assault. I immediately informed officials, who then ordered a physical. However, I was afterword told to return to my cell, where the individual lived a few doors down, and that nothing else would be done to protect me. I was assaulted by the same individual three days in a row, each time I informed officials of what happened and pointed him out.
J.C., Texas, 12/16/98

After my several attempts up to that point in trying to get officials to protect me in situations where I was threatened, assaulted or sexually assaulted from other inmates because I am a smaller, effeminate man, I finally gave in to some black Crip gang members who pressured me to "ride" with them or else. I realized that informing officials of the threats and my fears resulting was futile, that every time it was me who got punished. So, I gave in and was forced to perform sexually for numerous members of this gang for two and a half months.
J.C., Texas, 12/16/98

I have been threatend with being raped on numerous occations. One statement was "the snitchen bitch ought to be fucked in the ass until she can't talk, then she'll never be able to tell again." The newly remodled showers in our wing now have no privacy midsection curtains, like they used to. Even the menial task of taking a shower has become a forum for verbal sexual threats.
C.W., Nevada, 12/24/98

I'm a victim of another prisoner targeting me & attempting to punk me out, and make me his boy. He used threats, intimidation, and violence. This went on for a few weeks, however, he never got what he was after! He did pull my pants down & touched me. He knocked me out once, but nothing happened as far as I could tell.
C.B., Minnesota, 1/23/99

Sexual assaults are common everyday occurances in prisons, a simple fact . . . . And it is a violent sexual act (no matter how one characterizes it, i.e., control'; violence'; rage' etc., it is sexuality).
J.G., Colorado, 1/31/99

A lot of the housing here is in "open bay" dorms. A guy was sleeping on the top bunk, laying on his stomach, about six or eight other guys come up to him, without waking, and carefully draped a sheet over his upper body. At that point, two of them braced their feet under his bed and pulled down on the sheet, therefore pinning him to his bed. A couple more held his legs, pulled his clothing off, and raped him, each taking turns as the others held him. As they run in packs such as that down here in the Florida system, any sign of weakness is pounced upon.
C.P., Florida, 2/18/99

Mostely young youthful Boy's are raped because of their youth and tenderness, and smooth skin that in the mind of the one duing the raping he think of the smooth skin and picture a woman . . . . Prisoners even fight each other over a youth without the young man knowing anything about it to see whom will have the Boy first as his property.
W.W., Florida, 2/19/99

I am of slender build and not very muscular, though I am not a bean-pole either. Due to my demeanor and awkwardness (gait, inability to effectively talk as a typical prisoner, etc.) I am targeted for harassment and extortion by other prisoners. I am not homosexual and it has been my resistance to those inmates against it (when approached or threatened for sexual acts) that has brought me injury and reproach . . . . The first incident of sexual harassment and assault occurred at Union Correctional Institution in 1994 on the recreation yard . . . . The inmate had been attempting to extort me for sexual acts and assaulted me on the recreation yard after I would not yield. I was shortly after transferred to Florida State Prison for my own protection . . . . For approximately two (2) years I was in a single-man cell with open bar fronts. The verbal sexual harassment continued from those inmates around me . . . . When I confronted the administration with the true facts of what was occurring to me, I was told to use violence to solve my problem.
R.M., Florida, 2/25/99

9 times out of 10 when someone in here is raped no one knows. It is like a tree falling in the woods when no one is around . . . Why? Because if the rape victim goes to the officer and tells he's been raped all that can follow is Hell for the victim. And all inmates know this . . . . So if one gets raped he may either #1 pay for protection from other inmates. #2 Check in. Request protection for some other reason. Very seldom will someone let it be known that he was raped . . . . Word travels so Fast in prison. The Convict grape vine is Large. You cant run or hide.
R.E., Florida, 3/5/99 I have not reported any incidents, either [sexual] assault or harassment. Unfortunately, it is a fact of prison life and exists in all prisons I have been to . . . . I have not seeked any type of counseling and in fact am in denial that it has happened to me. I feel like I am no longer a "man", at least not recognized as one on the inside. I constantly have to watch what I do and say, so that it is not misinterpreted for something else. I can not accept "gifts" from anyone, for fear that it may have a "catch" to it. And of course the I'm your friend trust me . . . . I built a wall around me and everyone will remain on the other side a stranger. I try to stay in the officers' view at all times. And of course I have a weapon now in case I have to defend myself I would rather die than go through that horror.
P.E., Florida, 3/6/99

[Why does prison rape occur?] Predatory inmates/gangs are rarely prosecuted by state and federal courts for extorting and sexually abusing inmates in prisons. . . . Gangs of black and spanish inmates are very angry at freeworld white people for a variety of reasons, and this results in an attitude of vengeance towards white people in prisons. . . . Victim inmates are scared to report sexual abuse to prison officials because they fear that will be attacked by friends of the victimizer or by another racial groupeven if transferred to another prison unit or placed in protective custody. [What are the characteristics of prison inmates who are sexually abused?] Mentally ill; primarily white inmates; physically small; inmates who are not emotionally or physically violent in nature (passive people); child molesters/rapists. . . . I have had to stab other inmates to prevent them from sexually abusing me. . . . I have been approached numerous times over the past 6 years of my incarceration. They either want sex or money.
J.F., Texas, 3/22/99

Rape in the Illinois prison system is out of control. It seems that at times guards have placed me in dangerous situations on purpose. I came in the system at a young age and was raped in the first cell I was placed in. The shame that I experienced can't be described. Since then I've been attacked 3 times each resulting in rape. I'm now in a supermax prison where I'm safe, but I can't stay here for ever.
A.R., Illinois, 3/28/99

When I first came into Lake Butler [prison] I was being raped by the same person everyday . . . . This is my first experience in prison so I did not know what to expect. I thought that kind of thing happens in prison, I just never thought that I would encounter the experience myself. When I went to speak to the inspector he was also trying to tell me that I was a homosexual. He was making this assumption by the way I was sitting and talking with him in his office. He was telling me that I was bring on the problem myself, in other words, he was telling me that because of the way I look.
G.C., Florida, 5/13/99

[In prison], sometimes the sex act is for purely sexual purposes (gratification), other times it is a vehicle of expression of other passionate psychological dynamics (to give a sense of strength and power via sexual domination and subjugation; hatred; racism; expression of sadistic cruel tendencies, etc)at other times (but this is rare) there occur true homosexual love affairs.
J.G., Arizona, 5/24/99

When I first came to prison in 1968 (I had just turned 17 yrs. old . . . ), I was approached by an older prisoner for sex; after I beat him about his head and shoulders with a pipe wrench, he never came near me again.
J.G., Arizona, 5/24/99

I've known instances where a youngster will come into prison, and a sexual predator (or group of rapists) will attack and repeatedly sodomize (orally & anally) him, and then instruct him, if he wants protection from gang rape, he must become the "bitch" for that group or one member of that group.
J.G., Arizona, 5/24/99

The victim [of sexual abuse] is (the true charactoristic, irregardless of his size) afraid, intimidated, afraid to fightsexual abuse is violent sexuality; if you want to remain free of victimization, you must resist violence by violence.
J.G., Arizona, 5/24/99

I was in a cell with a White guy, they move him and put a Black guy in the cell with me. he said he was trying to help me. this how they get you. the Black read me cause I explain something about myself to him. So he goes out and tell the other guys that I was cool not in a gang nothing. So the other inmates said I was a punk a soft ass. So one day I goes to the day room going to get my medication there was a big Black guy both of them call me to the back of the day room. they were punking me out. I didn't want to fight them they made me call them daddy, made kept repeating it. . . . these things keeps happening to me. . . . these officers and these inmate they take avantige of the weak give them coffee, cigerette to make them do things for them. . . . there was a White guy that took advanteges of me in prison at another facility. . . . I don't no my rights or about the law, so I'm hit everytime I go to prison.
B.S., Indiana, 6/16/99 (schizophrenic on medication)

I would estimate that 40% rape for control and recognition . . . . Whites will either submit to this new and horrible life of being a sex slave or seek protective custody but in today's prison system it is extremely difficult to seek protection from physical & sexual assaults, so it's kind of as though the administration condones these acts. . . . I had a neighbor who was so racist we would always go hungry because if a white man brought his food or coffee he would throw it on them. He used to talk about his "boys" he had on the pound. White boys. He said he used to only get oral sex from them because he "wasn't gay" (I wanted so bad to tell him if you're pitching or catching you're still playing the game) but that he used to do it because they were white and because they wouldn't fight and he loved to degrade them. He swore he would never ever do that to no black man but instead would beat that other black man into acting like "a man."
K.M., Florida, 6/18/99 (Puerto Rican inmate)

How to eradicate rape? 1) A very strict & thorough classifying system that will segregate known preditors from potential victims automatically unless a potential victim waives his rights to extra security and unless the known preditor has shown serious signs of amending his aggressive behavorior.
2) Unrelenting and automatic criminal prosecution with maximum sentences imposed. NO EXCEPTIONS!
3) More security. Rapes occur because the lack of observation make it possible. Prisons have too few guards and too many blind spots . . . .
4) Manditory classes for known preditors with extra gain time upon successful completion of course . . . .
4A) Manditory training for employees on how to recognize signs of sexual victimization and how to respond to allegations of rape or threats of rape, as well as viewing video tapes of victims classes, to become more sensitive to the matter.
K.M., Florida, 6/18/99

Minnesota is a milder less violent prison population than most other systems in our country. In fact the only sexual assault I've witnessed is my own. What I've witnessed, a great deal of, is manipulation & light intimidation. And of course this is typically the new-younger guys being manipulated, by guys who have typically been down for many years.
C.B., Minnesota, 7/19/99

One case, individual, I'm pretty familiar with is a guy who has served over 20 years, and he is a tough guy. What he has done for years, is gets the young guys in his cell & gets them high & then chokes them unconsious & proceeds to rape them. But as I said in most cases it's manipulation & light intimidation, not forced.
C.B., Minnesota, 7/19/99

[During one six-month period], I had the orbit of my left eye fractured, and was assaulted by another prisoner with a knife, among other altercations. This was all due to my refusal for sex. My mother has been a prison guard for over 20 yrs in Florida and the other prisoners wanted to "turn me out" to homosexuality to get back at her and the department.
After 6 months of this treatment I requested to be placed in Protective Management (P.M.), and was taken before the special review board where I presented several letters written by other prisoners who were threatening me with violence if I would not "be with them" sexually. The board refused to put me on P.M. . . . I was then placed back in administrative confienment, waiting on an open cell in population. It was then that I realized the violence would not stop. At the end of my mental and emotional endurance, I tried to kill myself with a razor. 40 stitches and 11 days later I was returned to A.M. II where I wouldn't need "protection" because I was locked in a cell 24 hours a day.
6 months later, in 1997, I was returned to population where I promptly requested P.M. once more. I was given the distinct impression that if I tried to pursue the issue I would be put back on A.M. I couldn't stand the thought of being locked away in another cell all my life, so I did the only thing I could doI found someone to "be with." I determined I'd be better off to willingly have sex with one person, than I would be to face violence and rape by multiple people. The most tragic part to this is that the person I chose to "be with" has AIDS.
. . . . My life is in danger at F.S.P., and I want the public to know this. A place like F.S.P. could not exist, could not do such things without public support. The opposite of compassion is not hatred, it's indifference.
M.M., Florida, 7/30/99

At night the guards locked themselves in a cage and slept while inmates sexually and physically assaulted others. I made friends with the Mexican gang because I spoke Spanish. They protected me as they comprised the majority of the population. I at times was asked for sexual favors in order to maintain my security. I was never forced into sex physically, but mentally I wasn't capable of saying no, as I feared for my life.
R.L., Arizona, 8/26/99









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