Survivor Art & Poetry

Our brains seek out, collect, and analyze countless cues in any given interaction, which all add up and tell us—consciously or no—who is lying, who is dangerous, and what action we should take. This almost-instantaneous set of calculations can save our lives in a crisis.

The inclusion of distinct type of "evidence" as a marker of "truth” in a court of law, has influenced the culture of response across professions to survivors' empirical knowledge. Even the repetition of distinct experiences and knowledge expressed in survivor art and poetry, which create a replicable marker that the best interests of sexually abused and sexually exploited young males (documented and undocumented) are not being served, is overlooked within professional communities seeking a greater understanding of the extent of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation experienced by young males, and how to best provide an humane and meaningful response.

Private Prison Information Act (PPIA)

Currently the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) does not apply to privately-operated prisons. The PPIA would subject all federal facilities, both prisons and detention centers, public and private prison contractors to the same obligations under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). This is important as a transparency issue. CCA and GEO are getting upwards of 40% of their revenue from federal sources. Public policy decisions are based on private prison companies’ track records. Unless policy makers are getting accurate information, they’re not making accurate decisions.

The Migration Policy Institute has found that the budget for ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] ballooned by 87% since 2005, mostly as a result of “Operation Streamline,” a policy that forces undocumented migrants through the federal criminal justice system and into U.S. prisons instead of routing non-violent individuals caught “crossing the border” into civil deportation proceedings. In 2013 over 400,000 detainees passed through the U.S. federal immigration system, in which a full 50% of detention facilities are contracted to private companies.

Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA)

The Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA), which led to the publishing of standards for the elimination of prison rape that became effective in 2012, has been a strong impetus for ICE to create a new set of standards.

ICE, which oversees the largest civil detention system in the U.S., with detainees from almost 200 countries. The vast majority of detainees are held in county or city jails or in private facilities not run directly ICE. However, these private facilities will not be bound by ICE’s finalized PREA regulations until each facility’s contracts are renewed. This poses a problem because some of the contracts will not be renewed for five to 20 years or will renew automatically without negotiation.

Immigration detainees may hesitate to report sexual abuse and assaults by staff because they are being held by the same agency that has the power to deport them -- resulting in a fear of retaliatory deportation.

Request made by the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

In 2010, NIJC filed a FOIA request seeking information about children held in DHS custody. Pursuant to litigation filed on behalf of NIJC, DHS eventually released information regarding children detained at 30 specified adult detention facilities, including the age range and length of detention for each child. The data reveals that from 2008 to 2012, DHS detained at least 1,366 children in adult detention facilities throughout the United States. The data likely underreports how many children were affected because the terms of the legal settlement limited the scope to only 30 of the approximately 250 adult detention facilities with which DHS held contracts at the time.

Young male survivors fear being detected, detained and processed in juvenile justice and immigration detention centers, where they are often not separated from adult males and are denied access to appropriate and consistent medical care, programs that alleviate their significant trauma, and legal counsel and representation that ensures their  best interests are served.

One time I was detained. I had to do sex work. The cops beat me up and took me to the jail. Men were throwing up in a room and they were drunk and throwing up on the floor and it had a drain in it where the throw up went. It smelled really, really bad. They make you be naked and they finger fuck you. They shave your head. They beat you bad. They noked my toth out. They will not let you go. The food will make you sick. If you have HIV they will not give you nothing. Girl gards will come and they want to know if you have drugs so they finger fuck you again. They will see your hole and your dick. They will have spray and they will spray you in the face and it will burn your eyes if you fite them. They can no way make me go back there and I will hang myself. If they come and say you are going to jail again I will stab my neck with a nife. I hate cops and I hate gards and I hate jail. Pleze pleze do not let them get me or my friends. I mean it. The end” (12 yrs old).

When sexually abused and sexually exploited, documented and undocumented, young males live underground to avoid detection from law enforcement agencies, they do not live segregated lives. They take non-prescription drugs to better endure the physical and psychological trauma associated with lack of appropriate and consistent food, shelter and pain relief, and they share their stories and survival knowledge.

"it's better to take my chances on the street and get paid for being beaten and raped, and get needle-high to take the edge off the pain. one time i was in detention. they fucked me day and night in there. i told them I have HIV but they don't care" (12 year old).

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