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#StopPrisonRapeInTX
Despite the fact that in 2003, Congress unanimously passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), the Texas prison system leads the country in rates of sexual violence, particularly against LGBT people.

Texas must end sexual violence in its prisons and jails. Texas must no longer callously deny incarcerated people their right to protection, or threaten them with isolation when they complain of abuse.

These stories are important. Read these words from survivors in TDCJ custody who have shared their stories with Lambda Legal, and sign our petition to stop prison rape in Texas now.

These names have been changed to protect identities. We have sent a letter to Texas' PREA Ombudsman about these and other reports of abuse so that the Ombudsman’s office can investigate them and take appropriate action. We do not represent these individuals and do not have independent knowledge of the information they report.

Sunny

“Sunny”* is a Black transgender woman who has been in the custody of TDCJ for about two years. As summarized below, Sunny reports that since entering TDCJ’s custody, she has survived repeated sexual harassment, extortion and assault.

When Sunny first informed a TDCJ official about the sexual abuse she was experiencing, she was moved to a different area of the unit she was assigned to, only to be subjected to more sexual and physical violence. An inmate physically assaulted Sunny after she refused to give him her commissary. Sunny wrote to her mother about the assault and her mother contacted TDCJ on Sunny’s behalf. Instead of protecting Sunny from further victimization, TDCJ officials instructed Sunny to learn how to fight.

Sunny filed many requests for housing in safekeeping. All of her requests were denied, and instead, she was transferred to other units. Eventually, Sunny self-identified as “transsexual” to TDCJ officials and informed them that she is at a high risk for sexual victimization. Disregarding Sunny’s vulnerability, TDCJ placed Sunny in the general population, and within five days, she was physically restrained and assaulted by gang members for refusing to submit to their sexual demands or pay for their protection.

Scared about her safety, Sunny did not report the sexual assault. Sunny’s mother did, but the report seemingly “went nowhere.” The next day, Sunny was again physically assaulted. Sunny reports that TDCJ staff members were present during the assault, but did nothing to protect her. She suffered a broken nose, and her eyes were swollen shut.

After the attacks, Sunny begged TDCJ for placement in safekeeping, but her requests were denied, and she was again transferred to a new unit. When she arrived, she again identified herself as “transsexual” and pleaded for housing on safekeeping. Her request was denied, and instead she was encouraged “to give the unit a try.”

In this new unit, Sunny was sexually assaulted by one of her cellmates. She complained to an officer and was moved to another cell. But while in her new cell, she was again approached by inmates demanding payment for protection and threatening her with physical violence if she refused.

Sunny wrote to the PREA Ombudsman, detailing the sexual abuse she had survived. She also spoke with a TDCJ officer about the sexual assaults and related extortion. Her desperate pleas for protection and placement in safekeeping were denied. Despite Sunny’s history of sexual victimization, she was returned to the general population, where she continued to face ongoing threats to her safety.

Eventually, Sunny was transferred to another unit, where she again self-identified as “transsexual” and requested housing in safekeeping. Her request was again denied. Other inmates quickly began to sexually harass and abuse Sunny. On July 20, 2015, Sunny was physically attacked again, resulting in permanent damage to her right eye. Three days later, TDCJ finally approved Sunny to be housed in safekeeping.

*Name changed to protect identity. We have sent a letter to Texas' PREA Ombudsman about these and other reports of abuse so that the Ombudsman’s office can investigate them and take appropriate action. We do not represent these individuals and do not have independent knowledge of the information they report.

Tracy

“Tracy”* is a Black transgender and gender-fluid person who is same-gender loving. Tracy has been in the custody of TDCJ since 2009. As summarized below, Tracy reports that they have survived repeated sexual harassment, extortion and assault.

Prior to entering TDCJ, Tracy was placed in protective custody status while in jail because Tracy had been sexually assaulted in the general population. As such, upon entering TDCJ, Tracy was placed in lockup, pending review by TDCJ officials. Ultimately, Tracy was directed “to give general population a try,” even though Tracy had a history of victimization.

Once in general population, Tracy was sexually extorted and threatened. Tracy reported the extortion and threats to several officers, requesting placement in safekeeping. TDCJ officials denied Tracy’s request, yet continued to house Tracy in lockup.

Tracy was shuffled from one unit to the next. Eventually, Tracy was housed in a unit where known sexual predators began immediately sexually harassing, extorting and threatening Tracy. Again, Tracy reported the harassment and threats. Tracy was placed in lockup and TDCJ officials again denied Tracy’s request for safekeeping.

Tracy was returned to the general population, only to face repeated sexual abuse for seven months between July 2009 and January 2010. Tracy reported the sexual abuse to several TDCJ officers, filed Life-In-Danger (“LID”) complaints, and even submitted requests for help to central TDCJ offices in Huntsville – all to no avail. In January 2010, Tracy was told by TDCJ officials that LGBT people cannot be sexually assaulted.

In March 2010, Tracy wrote to TDCJ officials in Hunstville and begged for help after yet another sexual assault. In response, Tracy believes that a TDCJ officer filed false disciplinary cases against Tracy because Tracy highlighted the officer’s failure to take seriously Tracy’s reports of sexual abuse in the letter. As a result, Tracy was placed in administrative segregation (similar to solitary confinement), where Tracy remained for over five years, even though Tracy had no major disciplinary cases.

Tracy was finally released from administrative segregation last summer. Tracy was transferred to a new unit to complete a cognitive intervention program for people housed in isolation for extended periods of time. Upon completion of the program, Tracy was transferred to a new unit, which does not offer safekeeping.

*Name changed to protect identity. We have sent a letter to Texas' PREA Ombudsman about these and other reports of abuse so that the Ombudsman’s office can investigate them and take appropriate action. We do not represent these individuals and do not have independent knowledge of the information they report.

Charles

“Charles”* is a gay white man who, as summarized below, reports that he was sexually assaulted twice while in TDCJ custody.

When Charles tried to report his first sexual assault to TDCJ officials, they summarily dismissed Charles, instructing him to return to his cell and “to quit lying.” Determined to report the assault, Charles filed three grievances after the officials refused to allow him to report the sexual assault. He reports that all three grievances were “lost.”

Within the same month, Charles was sexually assaulted again. Charles reports that the second assailant was a friend of his first assailant and that both may be members of the same gang. He believes that the second rape was “punishment” for attempting to report the first rape. The second assailant threatened Charles’s life if he attempted to report the sexual assault. This threat, coupled with Charles’s previous experiences trying to report the first sexual assault, dissuaded him from reporting the second. He did not believe that TDCJ would take any steps to protect him.

Six months later, Charles was transferred to a new unit, and upon arriving, reported both sexual assaults. However, neither sexual assault was found substantiated. As a result, Charles’s first assailant was released from lockup, and Charles lives in constant fear that other gang members will learn that he has tried to report these assaults.

*Name changed to protect identity. We have sent a letter to Texas' PREA Ombudsman about these and other reports of abuse so that the Ombudsman’s office can investigate them and take appropriate action. We do not represent these individuals and do not have independent knowledge of the information they report.

Alex

“Alex”* is a white gay man, who – as summarized below – reports being sexually assaulted by a cellmate.

After the sexual assault, Alex alerted the cell block officer. Alex and his cellmate were removed from the cell, and Alex was taken to medical and placed in a cell, naked, for four hours. Alex was then transferred to a nearby health center, where a rape kit was performed. After treatment, he was returned to his unit and placed in lockup.

Two days later, a TDCJ Officer interviewed Alex about the sexual assault. She accused him of lying, stating that other inmates told her that the sexual assault did not occur and that she did not need "this kind of shit being said on [her] unit." Alex had a similar experience at a subsequent hearing with TDCJ officials. Officials called Alex a liar and stated that they, too, did not need “heat,” or negative attention, on the unit. Officials also stated that Alex could not have been raped because he is gay. Nevertheless, TDCJ decided to transfer Alex to another unit.

The following weekend, a family friend visited Alex, and Alex informed the friend about the sexual assault. Alex’s friend became very upset and filed several complaints with TDCJ. Approximately a week later, TDCJ officials instructed Alex to ask his family members and friends to stop filing complaints because they were “drawing attention to the unit.” Alex was also told that he would be transferred to another unit.

Three weeks later, Alex went before a disciplinary board, where he was found guilty of engaging in consensual sexual activity with his assailant. Alex appealed the decision, explaining that what happened to him was, in fact, sexual assault and was not consensual. Alex requested that the disciplinary conviction be dismissed. His appeal was ultimately denied.

*Name changed to protect identity. We have sent a letter to Texas' PREA Ombudsman about these and other reports of abuse so that the Ombudsman’s office can investigate them and take appropriate action. We do not represent these individuals and do not have independent knowledge of the information they report.