Survivors of Prisoner Rape Speak at Capitol for First Time
Today's "Stories of Survival" Event in Support of H.R. 1707
WASHINGTON D.C., June 24, 2003 - For the first
time in history, survivors of prisoner rape from around the country will
gather in the nation's capitol to tell personal stories of abuse and urge
lawmakers to address the problem. The event calls for the passage of the
Prison Rape Reduction Act of 2003 (H.R. 1707), slated for a vote in coming
weeks. Today's event will be at the Cannon Terrace on the northwest corner
of the Cannon House Office Building at 11:00 a.m.
Called Stories of Survival: Recognizing
Rape Behind Bars, the event is sponsored by Stop Prisoner Rape (SPR),
a national human rights organization dedicated to ending sexual violence
against men, women, and youth in detention. Co-sponsors of the legislation
will also speak, including Rep. Bobbie Scott (D-VA), Rep. Frank Wolf
(R-VA), and Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett (R-MD).
"We're showing America the human face of
prisoner rape," said Lara Stemple, executive director of SPR. "These
stories are about men and women, incarcerated for minor offenses, whose
lives were shattered by what they endured while in custody."
"I have waited for over thirty years to see
what happened to me recognized as a serious human rights abuse," explained
Tom Cahill, who was gang raped in jail after being arrested for civil
disobedience in 1968.
Also speaking at the event is Linda Bruntmyer,
whose seventeen-year-old son was incarcerated after setting a dumpster on
fire. After being raped repeatedly while housed in an adult prison, he
committed suicide. "This is not what we mean when we say justice. Rape
should not be considered a part of the punishment. Rape is always a
crime," said Bruntmyer.
"It takes great courage to talk about
experiencing this devastating abuse," said Stemple. "These men and women
are lifting the curtain of silence by bravely going public with their
stories. We hope and trust that the House and Senate will show similar
courage by passing the bill soon."
One in five men in prison has been sexually
abused, often by other inmates. Rates for women, who are most likely to be
abused by male staff, reach as high as one in four in some facilities.
"It's time our nation takes some responsibility for the violence it allows
to flourish right under its nose," said Cahill.
"The bi-partisan support for this bill marks
historic progress on the most neglected form of abuse in the nation,"
Stemple said. The bill calls for the gathering of national statistics
about the problem; the development of guidelines for states about how to
address prisoner rape; the creation of a review panel to hold annual
hearings; and the provision of grants to states to combat the problem.
Survivors and family members scheduled to
Linda Bruntmyer, mother of victim, Rodney
Hulin Jr. (deceased)
Tom Cahill, survivor of rape in jail
Keith DeBlasio, survivor of rape in prison
Vivian Edwards, aunt of a survivor of prisoner rape, Roderick Johnson
Hope F., survivor of rape in jail
T.J. Parsell, survivor of rape in prison
Marilyn Shirley, survivor of rape in prison
After the event, the full text of all survivor
speeches will be available on-line at
Other scheduled speakers:
Rep. Robert C. "Bobby" Scott (D-VA)
Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett (R-MD)
Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-VA)
Lara Stemple, Executive Director of Stop Prisoner Rape
Pat Nolan, President, Justice Fellowship