Roderick Johnson, a former Texas prison inmate, belonged to a gang called the Gangster Disciples, but not in the usual sense, the gang’s former No. 2 man explained in federal court in Wichita Falls, Texas. “Was Mr. Johnson considered a member of the Gangster Disciples?” one of Johnson’s lawyers asked the witness, whose name was withheld by the court because his testimony could subject him to retaliation. “No,” said the witness, a soft-spoken, perfectly bald and quite imposing black man in a prison uniform and shackles. “What was he considered?” asked the lawyer, Jeffrey Monks. “Property,” came the reply.
That meant, the witness continued, that gang members could rape Johnson at will, reports the New York Times. They could also rent him out for sex. A purchased rape, the witness said, cost $3 to $7. Johnson says the abuse went on daily for 18 months. Johnson, who was in prison for probation violations after a burglary conviction, has sued seven prison officials there for violating the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. The officials, the suit says, failed to protect him and took sadistic pleasure in his victimization. Johnson was released in 2003. His lawsuit has drawn national attention to the issue of sexual slavery in prisons. Testimony this week has corroborated aspects of his account and opened a window onto a world in which sexual slavery at the hands of prison gangs is common.