Mother’s fight to improve prison conditions in TX for boys by separating them from men after the suicide of her son after repeated rapes is acknowledged in every state but Texas, where it all happened. The mother herself passed away in 2012, believing that her lobbying and campaigning for conditions to help prevent rape in prisons were making a difference in Texas. Not on Rick Perry’s watch.
“On June 14, 2005, Texas mother Linda Bruntmyer went before the Congressional Prison Rape Elimination Commission in Washington, D.C., and told the story of her son, Rodney Hulin, and his untimely death. Rodney was only 16, a waif of a boy at 5’2” and 125 pounds, when he was convicted of setting a trash can on fire in Brazoria County, Texas, that caused $500 worth of damage. The judge decided to make an example of him, and he was sentenced to eight years in an adult prison. His small stature made him an easy target for the hardened convicts, and almost immediately after entering the system, Rodney was raped by another prisoner.
After the assault, while her son healed in the prison hospital, Bruntmyer was in constant contact with the prison warden, begging him to protect her son, to segregate him from the general population. Her cries went unheeded.
“The warden said Rodney needed to grow up,” Bruntmyer testified. “He said, ‘This happens every day; learn to deal with it. It’s no big deal.’ ”
Rodney was put back in with grown men and was subsequently beaten and raped, again and again. After less than a year of this torture, he committed suicide, hanging himself in his cell.
Bruntmyer’s testimony was persuasive, as were her years of lobbying for reform. In 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice finally issued a series of steadfast guidelines for preventing sexual abuse in correctional facilities, under the provisions of the 2003 Prison Rape Elimination Act. Among other protections, the provisions required that prisons house teenage boys separately from older convicts.
Linda Bruntmyer died shortly after the PREA reforms were announced in December 2012. She went to her grave believing that her son’s suffering had helped protect other teenagers from abuse in the prison system—and in 49 states, she was right.
In Texas, however, where her son was brutalized, those protections are now in jeopardy.
Last month, Gov. Rick Perry penned a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice, informing them that Texas refuses to comply with the 2012 guidelines Bruntmyer fought so hard to secure.
“The rules appear to have been created in a vacuum with little regard for input from those who daily operate state prisons and local jails,” Perry wrote.” —TakePart.com