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About Me

What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open.
Muriel Rukeyser
Rape and/or sexual assault happen in prison. These crimes are very seldom reported and when they are, the victims suffer retaliation not only at the hands of prison officials but from their fellow prisoners as well. Rape/sexual abuse is an ugly side of prison life officials do not like society to hear about. I have experienced it first hand, have witnessed it done to my fellow prisoners, my fellow women and I have heard personal accounts from many women who choose not to report it because they still have a lot of time to serve. When I began this page I was going to give narrative accounts of the personal stories of women prisoners I know. However, these women are in fear of retaliation and choose to remain silent. I decided to change their names, details about them and the names of the perpetrators in order to protect the women prisoners involved. Considering that an Oregon DOC official may read this book and pass it around, and that one of the perpetrators may recognize a story implicating him/her, I have decided to present fictional stories on prison rape and sexual assault instead. Prisoners are often regarded by people in society as “animals”, as the “worst of the worst,” also because of the way TV shows and movies portray inmates. I have decided to add a curious “spin” of my own, and give the perpetrators in the stories the names of real or imaginary animals. The readers can find in “Bestiary” index at the end of this page both a description of each animal and the reference to an inmate’s story.
The stories of the women you are about to read are a work of fiction. Names, characters, racial identity, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination and are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons living or deceased is entirely coincidental. However, I Barrilee (see Barrilee’s Story) am a real person; the resources/contacts of organizations listed at the end of this page; the Prison Rape Elimination Act; and all the state laws are factual. I hope that by including them on this page the information will encourage women prisoners to end the silence and speak up. Most importantly, I hope that people in society will take a closer look and question more closely what goes on behind guard towers and barbed wire fences.
To all the women prisoners in state, federal or domestic prisons: RAISE YOUR VOICES AND BE HEARD!

I have a sense of these buried lives striving to come out through me to express themselves.
Marge Percy
Barrilee’s Story
In 1995, at age twenty, I was sentenc...ed under Oregon’s Ballot Measure 11 Law to two seventy months sentences to be run consecutively, for two second-degree robberies due to two separate road rage incidents. I was placed in the care of the State of Oregon’s Department of Corrections.
Due to overcrowding within Oregon Department of Corrections’ prisons, I was one of seventy eight female prisoners contracted out-of-state to a for profit private prison called Corrections Corporation of America in Florence, AZ, in 1996. On our arrival at CCA we were led down a long corridor to the housing units we were to live in. While walking down the corridor there were several male guards standing about. Many of them looked at us female prisoners up and down, licked their lips, whistled and made lewd remarks such as: “Look at the tits on that one;” “Check out that ass;” and: “I’d like a piece of her.” Once we reached the two housing units we were assigned, five women at a time were ushered into the showers to be stripped searched by female guards. Male guards stood watching on the top tier landing. They had a clear view of us women in the shower area, naked. Several of us women prisoners pointed this out to the female guards, who just laughed it off, telling us not to pay them attention: “Boys will be boys” they said.
CCA was unprepared to house female prisoners, as they catered to the male prisoner population from Alaska and Oregon. There was no segregation unit for female prisoners – so we were housed in the facility’s medical isolation cells for disciplinary purposes. I was one of the first prisoners to experience the medical isolation/disciplinary segregation area. Several weeks after our arrival, another woman prisoner and I got into a fight. We were only housed there over night, and then the next morning we were released back into general population. Because of that fight, from then on, attention was on me. I got into that fight because I was called a “cracker.” Truth is, I never identified people by the color of their skin, and therefore I expect the same respect from other ethnic groups. Male guards approached me trying to joke with me and start conversations with me. Not being one who likes authority much, I found myself frequently handcuffed for disrespect, insurrection and various other institutional offenses, and invariably placed in segregation. During one of the many early trips to segregation I was housed in an isolation segregation cell with six other women who were placed there for various offenses. While in segregation, we were allowed all our canteen items and property. One night we were all sitting around on the floor playing spades, eating nachos and bullshitting. A high ranking officer, a captain, unlocked our cell doors, stepped into the cell, asked us what we were up to, and started to joke around with all of us. Then he pulled a “rollie” from his pocket and asked if we wanted to join him for a smoke. Considering we could purchase cigarettes off canteen and that we had all our property with us, we all declined. He lit up and started to smoke. By the smell we realized it was not a cigarette he was smoking, but marijuana. So the joint was passed around to all of us. Once it was gone, he handed us another joint, told us to save it for later, and left. Minutes after he left, he returned with five or six of his male peon guards who were working under his authority. Our cell doors were once again opened and we were told that our cells were going to be searched for contraband. If anything illegal was found, all our property would be confiscated, and, depending on what they found, we might get outside charges. We were then told the one way we could get out the search was to strip for them. Two other women and I took off our clothes and started to dance, while the other three (two butch lesbians and one older woman) watched. After approximately six minutes, they closed our cell doors and left. From that day on we were provided with joints and various other items that were not allowed in prison, as long as we stripped and danced for them.
After many comings and goings, in and out of segregation, a male Lieutenant approached me and jokingly said: “Bannister, spit shine my boots.” I spat on his boots and asked: “Where’s the rag?” I was immediately handcuffed and taken to the medical section of the facility. I was not placed into the cell with the other women. I was placed into an isolation cell on the other side of medical. The cell I was placed in had no running sink or toilet water: this was considered a “dry cell.” For three and a half days no one checked on me. I could not dispose of my urine or feces. I could not get a drink of water from the sink. Finally, a male correctional officer checked on me. I told him when I was placed in the cell and that I had nothing to eat since then. He informed me that as soon as breakfast came around he would make sure I received a tray. Then he left. Several minutes later, he came back to my cell with his lunch, opened up my cell door, pulled up a chair and asked if I wanted to eat some of his lunch to tie me over till breakfast. We sat down and ate his lunch together. From that day forward he came around to check on me every day that he worked. Every day he came around we talked about our kids and shared pictures with each other. After several weeks of the same routine, he leaned over and kissed me. I kissed him back. We had begun a dependent/provider relationship. Weeks later, after a few seconds of kissing, he took his penis out of his pants and asked me to perform fellatio on him, which I did. Why? I feared that if I turned down his advances I would be placed back on dry cell status, with no running water, and, once again, not be fed for days. I felt that I had no choice but to do as he wanted, since I had no control over my life. I did what I had to do to survive my situation.
After my sanction for spitting on the lieutenant’s boot was over, I went back to general population. By this time many women came and went from segregation, and word got out that women in segregation were putting on strip shows for the guards and having sex with them. A rumor was started that I had sexual intercourse with a guard and ended up pregnant by him, a rumor that was not even close to being true. I was then taken back to segregation where medical staff came to my cell and told me to urinate in a cup so as to test me for pregnancy. Later that night, two female guards and one male guard opened my cell door, maced me in the face, handcuffed me behind my back, threw me down on the ground and said: “We hear you are pregnant by one of ours; we are here to make sure you abort.” The two female guards then began to kick me as the male guard stood and watched. The beating lasted about a minute, but while it was taking place it seemed like ten or more. When they were done, the male officer un-cuffed me, and they all left. When the pregnancy test came back negative I was released from segregation. Once back in general population, I began contacting outside sources and telling my story. After an investigation by CCA, the Administration officials and the Florence Police Department detectives, I was sent back to Oregon. Once back in Oregon, the security manager at Oregon Women Correctional Center in Salem welcomed me back, and then proceeded to tell me I was to be blamed for several prison officials at CCA losing their jobs. He also told me that I should keep my mouth shut about what had happened there. At that point, Oregon’s DOC officials gave me a polygraph test that determined I was being truthful. I sought an attorney and took my story to the media. We settled out of court for an admittance of wrongdoing and an apology from CCA officials. We did not win or receive any monetary reward for what took place. Since then, I have been an advocate for women in prison. Due to this, Oregon’s DOC documented me as an “anarchist” and an Earth Liberation Front member. Being documented as a member of any gang or security threat group means that officials can monitor an inmate’s mail more closely (causing undue delays in the delivery of outgoing and incoming correspondence), search her bunk/cell everyday if they so choose, and confiscate any material that the institution may view as a security risk. The System can also send inmates to segregation for no other reason than “unauthorized organization,” the consequence of which may amount to one hundred twenty days of segregation, twenty eight days of loss of privileges once the inmate is released from segregation and fines of up to $200.
I am not now nor have ever been a member in either one of those organizations. Oregon‘s DOC claimed in 1999 that I was “guilty” because I associated with some of those groups’ members. But, I often wonder, if I sat at a table with a number of lesbians, would that make me a lesbian? If I hanged out with black women who claimed to be gang members, would that make me one of them? If I associated with Muslim women, would that make me a follower of Islam? These labels were never removed from my institutional record, even after years of requesting DOC for evidence warranting such labels being placed on me

Human Rights
Northern America
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