Each week, the staff of the prison watchdog group Just Detention International receives about 30 letters from inmates who say they've been sexually assaulted in prisons across the nation.
More than a quarter of those letters come from one state: Texas.
Sexual abuse is a problem in prisons nationwide. But even when adjusted for the number of inmates in a given prison system, Texas still stands out as the state where sexual assault in prison is most prevalent.
Five of the 10 prisons with the highest rates of sexual abuse in the country are in Texas. That includes the top two, the Estelle Unit, north of Huntsville, and the Clements Unit, east of Amarillo.
Garrett Cunningham was an inmate at the Luther Unit in Navasota in 2000, when he says a corrections officer twice his size accosted him on his way to the shower, handcuffed him, raped him and then forced him into the shower. Cunningham said the officer threatened to have him transferred to "a rougher unit where I would be raped all the time" if he told anyone about the assault.
Cunningham told his story to a panel of congressmen investigating sexual abuse in prisons in 2005.
"Many men and women in Texas experience sexual abuse at the hands of officers and other prisoners," Cunningham said. "Their pleas for help go unanswered by administrators and staff."
The federal government now is implementing new standards for prisons, jails and other lockups in what advocates and the Department of Justice call a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to end sex abuse behind bars. ...
New standards were proposed in June by a commission formed after passage of the Prison Rape Elimination Act in 2003. Facilities will have one year to implement the final recommendations, due this year and subject to federal approval.
Sunday, April 04, 2010
Texas leads nation in reported prison rapes
According to the Austin Statesman, Texas prisons stand out as experiencing a disproportionate number of prison rapes. The story opens: