Scott Howard: Prison rape survivor's story going international

Categories: Media, News

scott howard.jpg
Scott Howard
The story of Scott Howard, who endured extortion and rape by an inmate gang in Colorado's prison system, was told in detail for the first time in my feature "The Devil's Playground" three months ago. But our account quickly went viral -- and Howard, now free to speak out about prison rape, has become a high-profile presence on an issue long considered a media taboo.

As our piece recounts, Howard went public with his ordeal last year at a hearing on the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act -- a piece of legislation that's been many years in the making and still hasn't put much of a dent in the estimated 200,000 sexual assaults that occur in America's prisons and jails every year. But a more startling breakthrough occurred just days after our article went online.

Howard was invited on behalf of Just Detention International, a nonprofit crusading against prison rape, to speak at the national "congress" of the American Correctional Association, a trade group dominated by prison administrators and corrections officers. He electrified the room with his account of how prison officials ignored his pleas for protection and told him he was being a "drama queen." When he was done, the crowd greeted him with thunderous applause. One veteran prison administrator told him, "Scott, it wasn't your fault" -- and hugged him.

"I could never have expected the ACA to invite JDI -- much less a prisoner rape survivor -- to address its membership," JDI executive director Lovisa Stannow wrote on the group's website. "Just one year ago, this would have been unthinkable."

And last week, a story in The Economist about the slow march to implementing the Prison Rape Elimination Act led with a discussion of Howard and his battles with prison officials.

Howard is on federal parole now. He settled a lawsuit against prison officials for $165,000, much of which went to his lawyers. He keeps a low profile in his community and workplace, concerned about possible retaliation from the 211 Crew members he identified as his attackers and blowback from employers who don't want to hear that one of their own is a prison rape survivor. But none of this has kept him from emerging as one of the country's most powerful speakers on one of its most shameful secrets.

More from our News archive: "Bill Ritter's baby steps toward prison reform."

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Heather Heaton
Heather Heaton

I would like to recommend my new ebook  ("HerLetters from Prison")  as aresource for your reading pleasure, review, and comment.  The ebook is intended for use as a “self-improvement”resource for ministries to women’s prisons and/or an inspirational (tell-it-like-it-is)resource for drug rehab/prevention programs.  The book is non-fiction (It is what it is!);and the original letters are included as images for authenticity.  You can go to http://www.heather-heaton.comand purchase “Her Letters from Prison”.


Heather Heaton is a 34 year oldcollege student trying to better her life, in spite of the baggage she carries fromher earlier life.  She has been quitesuccessful in accomplishing that goal; and she will use the proceeds from thebook to help support herself.  Herpicture is posted, with her book descriptions, at Smashwords.  Heather Heaton can be contacted at


The recently published ebook isentitled ("Her Letters from Prison:  Part 1 & Part 2") by HeatherHeaton was published at Smashwords(  A briefdescription of the ebook follows:


Breanna tells the true story of her experiences in prison through herletters to her friend Heath.  This is astory of survival and a quest to make a better life.  The letters describe the daily shockingevents of prison life involving drugs, sex, utter devastation and humiliation,anger, hopelessness, despair, and finally happiness and hope.


Breanna's "truth" stands still even as the world around hertrembles and burns!  Bad things do happento good people; and Breanna is the perfect example of this truth.


Breanna's inner strengths and principles eventually win out over thecorruption and evil that surrounds her. With God's help, Breanna survives the horrible experiences of prisonlife and regains her self-confidence and hope for a better life.


"Breanna" was an inmate at TutwilerWomen's Prison from 2007 to 2009.


"Breanna" benefittedfrom women's prison ministries and the LIFE Tech-Wetumpka state-fundedself-help program.


The Introduction page of theebook follows:



The story you are about to read istrue.  Unfortunately, it’s my story; andthe truth is often much more intriguing than fiction.  I have had to deal with this story (thissituation) for more than the past ten years. I started living out this story with all the hopes and dreams of most(if not all) young American girls; and I will finish this story by realizingmost of those hopes and dreams, even though they have been interrupted for atime (in prison) that seems like time and time again.  Through it all, I have managed to learn somelife lessons that I hope to give to you; and I am hoping that you can pick upon these lessons earlier in life than I have done.  I should have learned these lessons longago.  If I had learned these lessons longago, I assure you that I would not have written the material you are now reading.  My hope is that nobody else has to endurewhat I have endured learning life lessons that should be given to youngstersand adolescents early in life by the ones who truly love them.  But here again, there are probably otheryoungsters and adolescents, much like me, who will have to learn these lifelessons painfully for themselves, the hard way – by experiencing them firsthand.  Well, if you continue to read mystory, here’s what you will experience – drugs, sex, violence, prison, utterdevastation/humiliation, anger, hopelessness, despair, and finally happinessand hope!


If you don’t take me seriously and youfollow in my path, you are going to experience false hope anddisillusionment!  You are going toexperience broken trusts, by those whom you trusted most!  You are going to experience pain and agonythat brings you to the brink of self-destruction!  You will lose your freedom!  You will lose the right to think for yourselfand to make your own decisions!  You willlose your sense of self-worth and self-dignity! You are going to lose your ability to support yourself!  You are going to lose yourself-confidence!  You are going to bevictimized; and you can do little to avoid this!  You will struggle and struggle and strugglejust to get yourself back onto an even keel! But if you can ever manage to muster a tremendous mountain ofstubbornness and determination, and if you can begin to think better ofyourself, you will be able to recover most, but not all, of your ability tomanage your own affairs while regaining some of your self-confidence andfeeling of self-worth.  I am just aboutto accomplish this in my life!  Beingjust about able to accomplish this in my life is what has led me to (it hasallowed me to) share my story with you. At first, I didn’t think I could ever share my story with anyone.  But, I really don’t want you to actuallyshare (live through) my experiences, even if you think you can handle it.  Just read this story and do somethingpositive in your own life.


Note:  Names have been changed to protect eachindividual's privacy.



This work is dedicatedto Valrise Bendolf (Clay County Dept. of Corrections Holding Facility), JackieRatliff (Kilby – Montgomery Womens’ Facility), Fawn Romie/Mr. Roberts/Gary Parsons (Life Tech)and all of Mr. Robert’s little roses that he so diligently cultivated.  For all their good works, these people savedmy life!



I hope that you find this ebookboth interesting and helpful.



Heather Heaton




Customer/Reader Review of “Her Letters from Prison”

Heather, ever since you firstcontacted me about your ebooks (and when I received them) I have been givingthem traction.  At least two women on my case load checked them out, (likea library card so I would get them back) and were very moved by thecontent.  I haven’t had another problem with their behavior since they readthem.  So…I know they are working.  They should be required reading,ordered by a Judge before women are sentenced to probation, so that they wouldfully understand the consequences of their behavior.  The coverage by ThePrison Art Coalition blog is very good news both for Heather and for those thatwill read her story. 


They (“Her Letters fromPrison:  Parts 1 & 2) should be usedas text books for the next Life Tech facility for Women!!!  I wish I hadsome pull for money to build a better one.  I pray for it.


Gary Parsons

Parole Officer

State of Alabama – Board of Pardons & Parole


   Don't be ashamed. It happens to everyone starting on the first day. 

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