Justice Department Finds Rampant Sexual Assaults and Constitutional Violations in Country’s Largest Women’s Prison

“The largest women’s prison in the country subjects incarcerated women to pervasive and frequent sexual assaults, violating their Eighth Amendment rights, the Justice Department concluded in a scathing and graphic report

“”Incidents of staff sexual abuse of prisoners at Lowell are varied and disturbing,” the report says. “Some staff abused prisoners through unwanted and coerced sexual contact, including sexual penetration, and groping. Prisoners were forced or coerced to perform fellatio on or touch the intimate body parts of staff. In other instances, staff demanded that prisoners undress in front of them, sometimes in exchange for basic necessities, such as toilet paper.”” 

“For prison advocates and families of incarcerated women at Lowell, the report has been overdue for years.

“The families of women incarcerated at Lowell have literally been begging for years for someone—anyone—to listen to their allegations of rampant sexual abuse,” says Greg Newburn, Florida director of policy for the criminal justice advocacy group FAMM. “The conditions there are beyond horrifying, and yet for years their cries for help were ignored.”

Newborn says the report only underscores the need for independent oversight of prisons.

“Anyone who bothered paying attention knew this was happening, and nobody did anything about it,” he says. “How many women have to be sexually assaulted in prison before our leaders act?””


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