Incarcerated for Bad Checks and Credit Card Fraud, Pamela Smith Said Her Prison Sentence Should Not Have Included Rape

Pamela Smith

 “It’s not just me, but the countless other women and even girls who have suffered at the hands of my rapist. Unfortunately, Oklahoma’s whole system and government agencies have let down countless abused women and swept their cries under the rug. I have to keep fighting so that they can have a voice.”

 By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent@StacyBrownMedia

More than 200,000 women are incarcerated in the United States, and at least 15 percent of them have suffered sexual assault behind bars, according to the nonprofit Human Rights Watch

These assaults occur primarily at the hands of male correctional officers who can perform strip searches at any time, watch as women shower and use the toilet.

Further, the number of assaults reported is likely much lower than actual because most inmates fear retaliation from guards and supervisors.

In raw and straightforward terms, male corrections officers have forced women inmates into degrading and dehumanizing sex acts.

They threaten the women with filing false reports to parole boards, planting contraband in their cells, and even prohibiting visits from children and family.

Pamela Smith is all-too-familiar with the heinous acts of authorities who know there is little to no chance they will ever see punishment.

For the past quarter of a century, Smith has sought justice.

The Tulsa, Oklahoma, native received a 20-year sentence in the early 1990s for check and credit card fraud.

While at the Tulsa Community Correctional Facility, Smith was considered a model prisoner and authorities approved her for a work-release program.

They assigned her to do housekeeping at a Drivers’ License office for the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety in Tulsa.

Once there, Smith alleges that her supervisor immediately assaulted her.

During one assault, the supervisor used a glass saltshaker to penetrate her forcibly.

“I am a Black woman with a past,” Smith wrote an email to the Black Press.

She said no one would listen to a Black woman’s cry.

“They have been doing this to Black women since our ancestors were brought here,” Smith demanded.

“The White man has always used and violated our bodies. The same thing is going on to this day in the prisons in Oklahoma, and I know all over the country.”

Smith has filed and lost numerous civil suits, but she said her fight is about protecting other women behind bars.

A recent Department of Justice report about sexual violence in New Jersey’s Edna Mahan Correctional Facility concluded that the risk of sexual harm was so high that it reached constitutional proportions and violated inmates’ Eighth Amendment rights against cruel and unusual punishment.

As recounted in Ms. Magazine, “the DOJ report tells stories of women who were forced into indignities such as being forced to perform oral sex or having to serve as the lookout for their assailant as they were being raped.”

The magazine also noted the DOJ’s 2014 investigation at the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Alabama.

“Reading both of the reports, the New Jersey and the Alabama prisons could be the same place: women being called ‘bitches’ and ‘ho’s,’ coerced into performing oral sex on male guards.

“This level of sex and chaos might be labeled some oddly-situated bacchanalia if women’s survival and freedom—women are threatened with parole-busting discipline reports if they don’t comply with sexual demands—weren’t in the balance.”

In Missouri, no fewer than five federal lawsuits have been filed against the Chillicothe Correctional Center by incarcerated women; at least nine women have accused one therapist of sexual abuse, Ms. Magazine reported.

Eight suits are pending against Coffee Creek Correctional Facility and the Oregon Department of Corrections for one nurse who allegedly abused, raped, or sodomized more than 15 women while he worked there.

A woman in Connecticut prison is suing the state for assaults by multiple male officers.

At least 12 officers have been accused of sexual misconduct at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility in Vermont. In Florida, too, women say sexual abuse is rampant in the Coleman Federal Detention Facility. It’s also happening in California, Kansas, and Pennsylvania.

Incarcerated women are 30 times more likely to be raped than free women.

Women account for less than 10 percent of inmates, their reports account for three-quarters of assaults, and almost three-quarters of staff are men.

Despite continued setbacks in her 25-year journey for justice, Smith said she keeps fighting because she has truth, documentation, and evidence on her side.

She produced several reports, including from physicians and mental health professionals, that back her claims.

“[Oklahoma authorities] have to lie, cheat, obstruct justice, cover-up, abuse their power and conspire against me and my case to get away with all the corruption they have done against me,” Smith told NNPA Newswire.

“I keep fighting to expose the state of Oklahoma, so they have to keep lying, destroying evidence, misinforming law enforcement and Oklahoma taxpayers – to hide their hands and keep from going to jail.

“They know once the truth comes out, many of them and their buddies are going to be locked up, and they don’t want that. They don’t want to answer to their wrongdoings. Accountability.”

Neither correction officials nor government officials returned messages seeking comment.

“I begged for help,” Smith pleaded.

She noted that she met with officials in the Tulsa County District Attorney and the FBI three times.

“I have called for a Congressional hearing on this case, for an FBI and DOJ investigation,” Smith detailed.

“Letters have been submitted to several members of Congress, government officials in the Executive Branch, and to a Supreme Court Justice. I intend to pursue civil litigation still, and I hope that criminal charges will follow.”

With her family and friends and other victims standing with her, Smith said her battle would continue until her rapist is brought to justice.

“The perpetrator and his buddies who shielded him are all still walking around, living their lives like my abuse never happened,” said Smith, who plans to hold a news conference in Washington, D.C. in July.

“It’s not just me, but the countless other women and even girls who have suffered at the hands of my rapist. Unfortunately, Oklahoma’s whole system and government agencies have let down countless abused women and swept their cries under the rug. I have to keep fighting so that they can have a voice.”

About Carma Henry 21243 Articles
Carma Lynn Henry Westside Gazette Newspaper 545 N.W. 7th Terrace, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33311 Office: (954) 525-1489 Fax: (954) 525-1861

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