When he is sixteen, Rodney Hulin Jr. is sentenced to eight years in prison after a small fire in a container that got out of hand. He is put in a prison for adults, where he is soon raped by a fellow prisoner. Repeated requests to the prison authorities to be transferred to a safer section are rejected. The physical threats and rapes continue until Rodney, after 75 days in prison, attempts to commit suicide. He lapses into a coma and dies four months later.
THE RODNEY HULIN STORY: PRISON RAPE IN AMERICA, produced by Joris Ivens Award jury member Jonathan Stack, needs little time to reveal a serious lacuna in the American judicial system. Apart from the placement of juveniles without prior convictions in prisons for adults, the taboo is addressed that sex in prisons allegedly always occurs by mutual consent. After his death, Rodney’s parents brought charges against the authorities and demanded that relief and protection for victims of rape in prisons be arranged. The charge was settled out of court and the rapists were never accused, but Human Rights Watch launched a campaign to draw attention to the fate of Rodney and others.