this rare moment of bipartisanship was born out of tragedy. In 1996, a 17 year-old prisoner named Rodney Hulin Jr. had torn up his bed sheet, tied it above the door of his cell in the Clemens Unit in Brazoria County, Texas, and jumped down from the top bunk of his bed. When correctional officers cut him down, Hulin was comatose, and he died four months later.MORE: A reader turned me on to this 6.5 minute video, "No Escape: Prison Rape in America - The Rodney Hulin Story."
Hulin had been raped, beaten, and forced to perform oral sex within three days of his arrival at the unit. He asked to be placed in protective custody and was turned down. After his suicide, a picture of his small shoulders and thin face circulated on major news networks and Hulin became a symbol of two related phenomena. One was the prevalence of new laws that allowed youth to be sent to adult prisons, rather than juvenile facilities, for non-violent crimes (Hulin had committed second-degree arson, resulting in less than $500 of property damage). The other was prison rape.
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Recalling Texan origins of the Prison Rape Elimination Act
Our pal Maurice Chammah has a feature in The Atlantic on prison rape, which includes this notable reminder about the Texan origins of the Prison Rape Elimination Act, which passed Congress unanimously in 2003 and was signed by President George W. Bush: