Former inmate describes prisoner abuse inside Lowell in Florida

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Earlier this month in Ocala the U.S. Department of Justice heard from former inmates and family members about brutal prisoner abuse happening in the Lowell Correctional Institution for women; here’s a WMNF interview with one former inmate.

The former inmates and and family members told the Justice Department stories about rape, assault, verbal attacks and other crimes by officers.

For a first-hand account of what it’s like inside Lowell, WMNF interviewed a former inmate there. Jhody Polk is executive director of the Florida Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls. She served time at Lowell from 2007 until 2014 for charges including home invasion and robbery, burglary, grand theft auto, arson and larceny.

In this interview Polk refers to “Y.O.s” – that’s youthful offenders – girls as young as 14 years old in prison at Lowell.

“The physical abuse — especially the Y.O.s. Y.O.s were kept separate from  adult incarcerated individuals. So, as a law clerk, I will have the opportunity to spend time with the Y.O.s and that was where I would hear the most physical abuse. One of the things that I did not like about the sexual abuse that is known to happen inside of prisons is that when you have individuals inside that space and then they’re completely cut off from community, cut off from family. We don’t just end up in that space out of convenience. When you don’t have any type of resources and support, it’s the same mindset on the street: how do I use what I do have to be able to get the things that I want. So I feel like even aside from the actual forcing incarcerated people to do things, there is this big attitude and just energy of you had to kind of like use yourself. You had to at some point recognize that you were not human and that you were just a, kind of, tool to either get your need met or someone else’s needs met. And it came — I don’t want to say willful — but it was almost as if we didn’t have a choice.”

Listen to the whole interview here: