Thursday, October 20, 2005

Busy Day Entry 3: Jurors Reject Texas Prison Rape Lawsuit

First, some background on this case, as it’s new to me:

In a legal first, a unanimous federal appeals court has ruled that seven ranking Texas prison officials can be sued for damages due to discrimination based on sexual orientation, the American Civil Liberties Union announced today. The ruling by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals came in a lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of a gay man who was repeatedly raped by prison gangs and whose pleas for help were ignored by officials.

Well, yesterday the verdict came in, and the officials were found not guilty. This is Texas Justice at its finest, folks. Someone who has been repeatedly raped begs for help and officials do nothing to protect them, based on the idea that there’s no “hard evidence”, despite the fact that he'd probably be dead if he named names or provided hard evidence while his sentence was still ongoing.
Besides that, their argument falls apart when you learn they made statements like this, which made me want to vomit:

According to the ACLU complaint, Johnson appeared before the prison’s all-white classification committee seven separate times asking to be placed in safe keeping from predatory prisoners. Instead of protecting Johnson, the ACLU complaint charges, the committee members taunted him and called him a “dirty tramp,” and one said, “There’s no reason why Black punks can’t fight if they don’t want to fuck.”

The truth is that the prison system failed to uphold his constitutional rights, plain and simple, and now the entire justice system is upholding that failure because prison rape is “not a problem." Everyone thinks these guys are already in jail, so let what happens happen. The only people I hate more than those who don't see a problem with rape happening in prisons are those who let it happen. And let’s not even talk about how increasingly stringent policies for drug arrests are manufacturing more and more “criminals”.

The whole situation is sickening.

Jurors Reject Texas Prison Rape Lawsuit

WICHITA FALLS, Texas (AP) - Six prison officials were found not liable Tuesday in a federal lawsuit claiming they violated a gay convict's constitutional right against cruel and unusual punishment by ignoring his pleas for protection from inmate rapes.

Roderick Keith Johnson, 37, had sought unspecified damages against the Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials at the Allred Unit near Wichita Falls, where he was housed for 18 months for burglary.

"I think the trial will have made a difference even though it didn't go our way," said Johnson's attorney, Margaret Winter. "I really think it's been a wake-up call to public officials in Texas."

The defendants smiled and hugged their attorneys and each other after the verdict was read. The jury of six men and six women deliberated nearly eight hours over two days.

Johnson, whose nearly four-year prison term ended in 2003, testified that prison gangs forced him to be their sex slave while the officials never investigated his reports of abuse or kept him in a safer area for vulnerable inmates.

The defendants and other prison employees testified they could not substantiate Johnson's half a dozen or so rape claims because he changed his stories or there was no medical evidence. They said Johnson usually seemed upbeat in prison, wearing tight pants and flirting with a corrections officer.

Juror Randy Shelton, 43, said he didn't think there was enough evidence of the assaults. "He probably was (raped), but he never came out with a rape test," Shelton said.

Posted by crimnos @ 8:33 AM

Read or Post a Comment

Okay, I have a point in this.

Do a search for a computer game called "Prison Tycoon."

It's a video game where you are put in charge of a for profit private prison, the kind we have tons of down here in Texas, in which your goal is to maximize profit.

(take a look at the screen shots it's terrifying.)

I mention this because it is a way of normalizing, for children, the brutality and abuse of our prison population. Just like how all the jokes about prison rape normalize that behavior.

Terrifying fact. Heard this on a local radio station, so can't cite the source. 1 in 4 Texas prisoners are the victim of sexual abuse or rape.

If you take that number and multiply it by the number of convictions of innocent minorities in our state due to poor representation, and our prison population, you get a number in the thousands.

Thousands of innocent people in Texas are sent to prison and are raped. Innocent people whose only crime is being poor and non-white.

It is truly horrific.

Posted by Blogger mikevotes @ 2:16 PM #

I feel ill. Thanks for the post, crimnos, and thanks for the extra info, mikevotes. This is heartbreaking, and all the more reason to support the aclu.

The cousin of a friend of mine is currently on deathrow in Texas; he has a mental illness (schizophrenia) and has been denied medication and therapy. The abuses in their system (well, throughout the nation, but particularly in Texas) are beyond comprehension... by those of us with a conscience anyway.

Posted by Blogger alice_pants @ 3:58 PM #
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