SURVIVOR TESTIMONY

These portraits were taken by photographer James Stenson, to document the dignity and courage of survivors across the country who have refused to be silenced by the sexual abuse they endured while incarcerated.
  • Adam, Louisiana
    Adam is an openly gay prisoner who was gang raped and sexually assaulted by detainees at the New Orleans Parish Prison over a period of two months in 2009. During those two months, Adam filed repeated emergency grievances and requested protective custody, but was denied. He agreed to have this testimony read at the Department of Justice's Review Panel on Prisoner Rape in 2011.

  • Ca'Linda, Kentucky
    Ca’Linda was sexually abused repeatedly by staff in two different Kentucky facilities. Although she bravely reported her abuse to prison officials and the police, Ca’Linda was not protected from further sexual assaults. Nor were her attackers held accountable. Ca’Linda is traumatized by the abuse, but finds comfort in sharing her story.

  • Carlos, Rhode Island
    While he was in federal custody for non-violent drug charges, Carlos was sexually assaulted by inmates at two different facilities. As an openly gay man with a history of sexual abuse as a child, Carlos was at high risk for being targeted by predators.

  • Cornelius, Florida
    Cornelius is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse who was sexually assaulted at knifepoint by an older inmate when he was 18 years old. He was too afraid to tell, and kept the abuse a secret. In 2004, Cornelius was sexually assaulted again by another prisoner and contracted HIV. In his testimony, Cornelius describes the pain and hopelessness he has felt and how, with JDI's help, he is coping.

  • Frank, California
    While in the custody of the Los Angeles County Jail, Frank suffered persistent harassment by corrections officers for being openly gay. After a particularly intense verbal attack, Frank was beaten and raped by an officer in the middle of the night. He was released a few days later, and filed formal complaints.

  • Jan, Michigan
    A power-obsessed prison worker abused Jan and many other inmates for years before he was caught. Years later, Jan and hundreds of female state prisoners settled a class action suit with Michigan for over $100 million after a jury found that prison officials for years ignored cases of rape, sexual advances, and groping by staff.

  • Joe, California
    Joe is an openly gay man living with HIV. While at a California state prison, he was raped at knifepoint multiple times by his cellmate. Joe was eventually moved after staff ignored repeated requests for help. Now, with the support of friends, family and JDI, Joe wants to make sure this kind of abuse doesn’t happen to anyone else.

  • Jonathan, Florida
    A high-ranking corrections official sexually abused Jonathan for months at a federal prison in Florida. Jonathan reported the abuse, which led to a full investigation by the FBI and the Office of Inspector General.

  • Kerry, Illinois
    After arriving at state prison, Kerry repeatedly requested placement in protective custody. Instead of guaranteeing his safety, officials ignored his pleas, allowing another inmate to rape and extort Kerry.

  • Kimberly, Kentucky
    After she was repeatedly raped by an officer in a federal detention center, Kimberly learned that the same man had assaulted a number of other women. The Bureau of Prisons had been notified about the officer’s behavior, but failed to do anything - until Kimberly spoke out and demanded justice.

  • Linda, Texas
    Linda’s 17-year old son, Rodney Hulin, killed himself after being continuously raped and abused in Texas prisons.

  • Micah, California
    Micah was raped and tortured by law enforcement officers in a police lock-up. He faced many challenges trying to report the abuse and was denied follow-up services, such as counseling and medical care. He has since been released from jail and is struggling to rebuild his life while facing the emotional scars of the abuse.
  • Nicole, California
    Investigations went nowhere for Nicole, who was raped by two different staff members at a California prison. Instead, she was transferred and told to keep quiet - until she was later moved to a new facility where she is finally getting proper counseling and support.

  • Ophelia, Virginia
    Like other transgender women in men’s prisons, Ophelia was repeatedly sexual assaulted by inmates and staff. Female corrections officers singled Ophelia out and sexually assaulted her multiple times. She bravely reported these crimes, but Ophelia was never offered any treatment. In her testimony, she describes how this violence has shattered her life.  

  • Pedro, Wisconsin
    Pedro, who has spent nearly all of his adult life behind bars, was raped by his cellmate after being transferred to a new housing unit. Pedro was devastated, but with support from JDI, he is beginning to heal. Read Pedro’s letter to other people who have lived through this abuse.

  • Robert, South Carolina
    Robert was raped by his cellmate at a federal prison in South Carolina. After reporting the assault to prison officials, he was placed in solitary confinement for over two months, just two cells away from his attacker, where he continued to be threatened and harassed.

  • Rodney, Louisiana
    Rodney is an openly gay man who was repeatedly sexually assaulted by inmates in two Louisiana jails while serving time for check fraud. He was sold into sexual slavery from one prisoner to another and was forced to abandon his male identity as his only way to survive.

  • Sarah, Washington
    Sarah, a transsexual woman, was sexually assaulted by two guards at a Washington state prison. Despite Sarah’s attempts to report the incident, nothing was done. She was later raped by another inmate.

  • Sidney, Texas
    An openly gay man, Sidney has been repeatedly sexually abused in Texas prisons. He was first raped at the age of 17 while housed in an adult facility. Later, like many other inmates, he was forced to enter into a sexually abusive relationship with a more powerful inmate in exchange for protection from further violence. Sidney continues to suffer from the trauma of the sexual assaults and fears it will happen again.