The Rape of American Prisoners

Sexual Victimization in State and Federal Prisons Reported by Inmates, 2007

by Allen J. Beck and Paige M. Harrison
Bureau of Justice Statistics, 48 pp. (2007); available at www.ojp.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/svsfpri07.pdf

Sexual Victimization in Local Jails Reported by Inmates, 2007

by Allen J. Beck and Paige M. Harrison
Bureau of Justice Statistics, 43 pp. (2008); available at justdetention.org/pdf/svljri07.pdf

National Prison Rape Elimination Commission Report

National Prison Rape Elimination Commission, 259 pp. (2009); available at cybercemetery.unt.edu
kaiser_1-031110.jpg
James Stenson
Troy Erik Isaac, who was raped repeatedly by fellow inmates at a California juvenile facility, where he was sent for vandalism at the age of twelve. He spent the next two decades in and out of prison; he now works as a peer counselor and speaks to young p

Adults who want to have sex with children sometimes look for jobs that will make it easy. They want authority over kids, but no very onerous supervision; they also want positions that will make them seem more trustworthy than their potential accusers. Such considerations have infamously led quite a few pedophiles to sully the priesthood over the years, but the priesthood isn’t for everyone. For some people, moral authority comes less naturally than blunter, more violent kinds.

Ray Brookins worked for the Texas Youth Commission (TYC), the state’s juvenile detention agency. In October 2003, he was hired as head of security at the West Texas State School in Pyote. Like most TYC facilities, it’s a remote place. The land is flat to the horizon, scattered with slowly bobbing oil derricks, and always windy. It’s a long way from the families of most kids confined there, who tend to be urban and poor; a long way from any social services, or even the police. It must have seemed perfect to Brookins—and also to John Paul Hernandez, who was hired as the school’s principal around the same time. Almost immediately, Brookins started pulling students out of their dorms at night, long after curfew, and bringing them to the administration building. When asked why, he said it was for cleaning.1

In fact, according to official charges, for sixteen months Brookins and Hernandez molested the children in their care: in offices and conference rooms, in dorms and darkened broom closets and, at night, out in the desert. The boys tried to tell members of the staff they trusted; they also tried, both by letter and through the school’s grievance system, to tell TYC officials in Austin. They did so knowing that they might be retaliated against physically, and worse, knowing that if Brookins caught them complaining he could and would extend their confinement,2 and keep on abusing them.3 They did so because they were desperate. But they were ignored by the authorities who should have intervened: both those running the school and those running the Texas Youth Commission.4 Nor did other officials of the TYC who were informed by school staff about molestation take action.

Finally, in late February 2005, a few of the boys approached a volunteer math tutor named Marc Slattery. Something “icky” was going on, they said. Slattery knew it would be futile to go to school authorities—his parents, also volunteers, had previously told the superintendent of their own suspicions, and were “brow beat” for making allegations without proof5—so the next morning he…


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