E-NEWS - 2009

The Real Story of Prisoner Rape

September 8, 2009 -

Almost three decades ago, Just Detention International (JDI) was founded by prisoner rape survivors who refused to remain silent about the abuses they had endured while behind bars. Since then, all of us at JDI have remained committed to keeping the perspectives of survivors central to our work. Prisoner rape survivors serve on our Board of Directors, Survivor Council, and Survivor Speakers List. Their experiences are crucial to changing attitudes about sexual violence in detention, and to sparking reform.

At JDI, we receive dozens of letters every week from prisoner rape survivors. Their stories invariably shock the conscience; many also inspire hope, as survivors describe their advocacy on behalf of others, often while still locked up. The courage and wisdom of these prisoners motivate everyone at JDI to work even harder to end sexual assault in detention.

Some survivor stories are posted on JDI's website. They are often graphic, describing rapes and other forms of sexual abuse. As such, they are not suitable reading for everyone. At the same time, at JDI we believe that it is essential to let these voices be heard, to speak the truth about what occurs in U.S. prisons and jails.

Richard, for example, is incarcerated in Texas, where he has been assaulted repeatedly after being denied the special housing he obviously needs. He writes: "My emotional condition is not the best and it's very difficult to find hope on some days. I reported the assaults, yet was accused of lying and told to keep my mouth shut.... [T]he officials I was supposed to trust were the ones who turned their backs to me and let it all continue." Rebecca was abused by staff at a federal prison in Kentucky. She says: "Here is what I will do when I get released from prison. I will reach out, do what I can, and fight for every other woman in prison or jail."

Thank you for helping JDI uphold every person's right to be free from sexual abuse. No matter what crime someone might have committed, rape must not be part of the penalty.

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