Garrett Cunningham, 33, says a Texas corrections officer raped him four years ago near a prison shower. Since 2000, at least 128 other Texas prisoners have alleged that they were raped or had had sexual contact with corrections officers, says the Dallas Morning News. Allegations of inmate-on-inmate rape are even more frequent and appear to be increasing. The number of reported sexual assaults in Texas prisons has increased 160 percent, to 609 in 2004 from 234 in 2000. Inmate advocates say the problem is greater than the statistics show. State officials attribute the increase in reported assaults to their vigilance in punishing offenders.
Former Texas inmate Roderick Johnson has sued the state, saying prison officials did nothing as gangs bought and sold him as a sex slave. Experts say the case could open the door to judgments against prison officers or the state, though some emphasized that because jurors are not often sympathetic to inmates, awards are typically low. Cunningham did not report his rape initially because, “He [the corrections officer] told me he’d have me sent to another prison, where this would happen to me all the time from gang members.” The Dallas Morning News generally does not identify victims of sexual assault. Cunningham, who was released last year, believes the public should know about his experience.