Monday, April 11, 2011

In U.S. Prisons, Inmates Sold Into Sex Slavery

Scary stuff.

In U.S. Prisons, Inmates Sold Into Sex Slavery
by Claudia Núñez, New America Media
11 April 2011

In prisons across the country, gangs are selling their fellow inmates into sex trafficking in order to increase their power and profits.

Ex-convict Scott Howard, a survivor of the prison sex trade, described being smuggled from prison to prison over a two-year period. His "owners" -- members of a white supremacist gang -- sold him to a group of Norteño gang members, who forced Howard to prostitute himself in exchange for $7 to $20 per sexual encounter, an abuse that was repeated over the course of many years.

"The situation is an epidemic. Dozens of us were being forced into prostitution, and I can assure you that as I speak there are other (prisoners) who are being forced into prostitution. The last time I was sold (for sex), the 'client' paid with four boxes of cookies. It's horrible what goes on, and in prison no one comes forward to help us!" said Howard, who was released from prison in December 2010, after serving 10 years on fraud charges. He now works as a reformer, seeking solutions that will protect prisoners from sexual abuse.

The sex trade is dominated by national criminal organizations such as the Mexican Mafia, the Sureños and the Norteños, who sell young prisoners for sex in order to finance their activities, according to an annual report issued by the National Center on Gang Intelligence.

The report, despite participation from local, state and federal agencies, does not include statistics on the overall scope of sex trafficking networks in prisons.

According to Howard, the underworld of prison prostitution networks range in size from prison to prison. Within a three-month period, Howard said, he was transferred to five different correctional facilities within the state of Colorado, and at each one, new gang members were awaiting his arrival so they could continue selling his body for sex.

Lovisa Stannow, executive director of Just Detention International (JDT), an organization that advocates for the protection of prisoners and seeks to eliminate sexual assault behind bars, said a key part of the problem is the secrecy under which detention centers operate throughout the country. more

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