I was listening to a debate on BBC Tees on Wednesday where they were talking about sex in prisons, it goes on and they were talking about giving out condoms to stop the spread of STI’s. I agree that it is a good thing because it does happen and unfortunately I have first hand experience of this.
I’ve never told anyone about it but listening to the radio really bothered me so I thought I would blog it to get it out of my head hopefully to stop some of the nightmares about it.
I was placed in general population in Albany Prison in the USA for overstaying my visa, not by choice I have to admit. I was stranded in the states when my passport and belongings were stolen in 2006. But regardless of that, I was placed in a general prison, on a ward with rapists, thieves and god only knows what else. To compound the problem I was placed on some unknown medicines that made me docile. I found letters I had written to people and you can tell something isn’t right, I am generally good with grammar and making sense. These letters were a jumbled up mess.
For the first day or so you get put into a private cell on the intake ward, which is just like you see on TV a small rectangle of a room, you get your meals on a tray through a slat in the door and you get let out to shower at staggered times. I’ll never forget a room close to mine had full plexiglass in the door, the guy was apparently a spitter or something. You get escorted to the medical examiner on your first day, who in my case because I was anxious prescribed some drug pills. Your individual room doesn’t last long then you get moved to a bigger open type ward. Or you did in Albany Prison anyway. I’ll never forget the long walk down the corridor and past the various gates leading to your would be home. In Albany you walk from the receiving area, where the guards take your belongings, clothes and issue you with the uniform on the first day. You’re then led into a room where an officer, takes your name, asks you questions and they decide where to place you. Then you go into the long white/off grey corridor to the medical room, pass through a metal detector, up a flight of stairs to another corridor. You have to stick to the left wall and walk past other people on the opposite wall walking the other way.
So I was medicated, in a strange country, in a strange position; I had never been to prison, never been on the wrong side of the law at all. Not even a parking ticket or speeding fine. My experience is not uncommon in American prisons where sex is rife and it is always more or less forced. In my ward there were no individual rooms, you were in a huge room with 10 or 12 bunk beds against the walls. The toilet was a small room with a see-through door, so the guard station could see in. The showers were in a separate room, again with no stalls only shower heads set up high.
The main incident, as it did happen more than once, happened in the shower. I don’t know how it had been planned or how it came about but four of the men took the positions of the nearest showers so the guard station could only see them. Everyone went into the showers at the same time every morning you see. As they had planned only the far end of the room shower head was free and so I had to go take that one. I was right in the corner of the room and everyone else was what looked like taking a normal shower. I am or was at the time, heterosexual I had never experienced any gay thoughts, or feelings about men. I was grabbed from behind and someone pushed my face into the wall and in not many nice words told me I had to do what I was told. His hands rubbed over my back and down to my bum, where he not so gently pushed a finger into me. I was at this point turned round and a White/Hispanic is the only way to describe him was looking right at my face from only a few inches away. He nodded to someone I couldn’t see and hands pushed me down onto the floor. I tried to pull away but was slammed against the shower tiles.
I don’t know how long the incident lasted or want to recount much more of what happened, I was abused and had to provide oral sex to get away. This began to happen regular as clockwork every morning. A few times I went to the guard station after the incident and could never say what happened, even to this day. It happened a further few times over the 2-3 weeks I was locked up. When I was finally released I was deported home and can honestly say I have not been the same since.
So in terms of condoms and the issue of sex in British prisons which is how this post came about, it is nowhere near as prolific as in the US. However I would say that sex in prison whether consensual or not is a bad thing. The US officers just like UK, know it goes on but turn a blind eye to it. Coerced sex as mine was, should not only be severely punished, but actively monitored. Guards should patrol the showers or any area where this stuff goes on. The problem is most of them are smaller than the inmates and not as well built. I think a certain fear of the inmates especially where I was must be the reason for this. You are guarded but mostly from behind security stations where they are safe.