Three years ago, the young man who would later be known as John Doe 1 shuffled into the Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility in Ionia, Michigan. It was still wintery in April, and his state-issued jacket was poor protection against the drafts coming through the broken windows, shattered by men who had passed through before. The rituals of intake were familiar. But he also noticed that he was one of the youngest prisoners on the block. The other prisoners noticed too.
A gang of inmates violently attacks a lone prisoner in the shower, sticking a knife to his throat and ripping his clothes off. Then they rape him, one after another. This is what people outside of prison tend to picture when they think of prisoner-on-prisoner rape. The basic scenario is not inaccurate, Human Rights Watch has found; it occurs in prisons around the country. Rape in prison can be almost unimaginably vicious and brutal. Gang assaults are not uncommon, and victims may be left beaten, bloody and, in the most extreme cases, dead. Yet overtly violent rapes are only the most visible and dramatic form of sexual abuse behind bars.
People have a deep-seated need to belong — it's why our disastrous elections go the way they do. And sometimes, this leads people to join a bona fide cult, which gains steam and fame till the rest of us can just bang our heads against the wall and wonder how and why. Is the world really such an isolating place that people believe anything they're told under the guise of belonging and bettering themselves?
I n April , Carlos Martinez was visiting a prison for gang members in El Salvador, having gained rare access to help with a photography project. A reporter for national newspaper El Faro , Martinez, 41, was used to dealing with the gangs that have over decades made his country one of the most violent in the world. But this time he saw something that shocked him.