In 2007, Brittney Allen Young, a transgender woman, was incarcerated in the Powledge men’s prison unit in Palestine, TX. Her cellmate repeatedly overpowered and raped her. She complained to prison authorities, but they dismissed her complaints for lack of a corroborating witness to the incidents.
Young was eventually transferred to the Hughes Unit in Gatesville, TX, where another inmate, this one HIV-positive, also assaulted and raped her. She was eventually placed in protection detention where, as reported by the Dallas Voice Young is today “locked up 23 hours a day, unable to participate in the educational, vocational and religious programs her attackers still enjoy.”
The prison-industrial complex is estimated to cost $80 billion annually to maintain. It includes federal and state prisons (many run by private, for-profit corporations) as well as county and local jails, juvenile facilities and police lockups, halfway houses and probation programs. According to the Justice Department (DoJ) data, 2.2 million people were incarcerated in 2010. The U.S. operates the largest prison system in the world.