Gay Survivor Speaks Out
Adam was 30 years old when he was arrested in New Orleans for nonviolent offenses. When he was placed in general population at Orleans Parish Prison (OPP), he was scared. As a gay man who had been sexually assaulted before going to jail, he knew that he might be a target for abuse by other inmates; he asked staff to keep him away from general population for his safety. They refused.
Adam's worst fears were realized his first night in an overcrowded cell, when he awoke to his cellmates attacking him. Adam remembers,
"I called for help, but there were no guards around and no one responded to my screams. At first, I refused to do what the inmate was telling me to do, but then he grabbed me by my hair and kicked me while another inmate held a knife to my back. I decided that I had better do what he wanted in order to save my life -- I was already bleeding from the knife."
Over the next two months, Adam was choked until he passed out, set on fire, and repeatedly raped and beaten by other inmates.
Adam filed six grievances, requested that he be placed in protective custody, and turned in some 25 requests for medical help.
Officials did nothing.
Adam has since been transferred out of OPP, and he has started to get some help for what happened to him. Now, he wants to make sure it doesn't happen to anyone else.
When OPP officials were asked to testify before the Department of Justice's Review Panel on Prison Rape last week, Adam wanted to be sure that his story was told. Through his testimony, he described the shocking lack of supervision at OPP, where inmates are essentially left to fend for themselves:
"I think that what I went through and what I saw happening to some of the other people at OPP could have been prevented if OPP had done something to keep inmates like me -- guys who are gay or who are going to be targeted by other inmates -- safe. Not only did the guards sit by and do nothing while I was being raped on a regular basis, they made it even worse by not helping me when I complained and not providing me with basic health care after the rapes. I feel as if I was treated as less than human."
The national standards addressing prisoner rape, currently under review by the U.S. Attorney General, will ensure that OPP -- and other jails and prisons across the nation -- are held accountable for protecting the safety and dignity of people like Adam. Every day without the standards, more and more people are suffering.
Please join us in sending a message to Attorney General Holder every day, until strong standards are signed, urging him to take action now to end prisoner rape, once and for all.
For more information about Adam, you can read his testimony here.