Two weeks after guards at Lowell Correctional Institution — the largest women’s prison in Florida and the second largest in the nation — brutally beat a woman with mental and physical disabilities, former inmates from the women’s prison protested the inhumane prison conditions they have experienced for more than a decade, including physical and sexual abuse.
Saturday morning, a four-hour vigil was held outside the Lowell prison compound in part to protest the beating that left Cheryl Weimar, a 51-year-old inmate, paralyzed from the neck down. According to a local news station, fifty people attended the protest.Weimar’s lawyer, Ryan Andrews, says Weimar remains hospitalized and connected to a breathing apparatus.
Following the attack and paralyzation of Weimar, former Lowell inmate Jordyn Cahill expressed her disgust over the beating in a YouTube video, citing the sexual abuse she experienced herself during her eight years at the facility. In her video, Cahill named several correctional officers, including supervisors, and stated that they extorted her for sex and sexually assaulted her during her time at Lowell, sometimes demanding sexual favors in exchange for basic necessities such as toilet paper.
“For Cheryl, or any other incarcerated woman who has been physically or sexually abused by an officer, or any male inmate who is physically or sexually abused, I am going to tell my story, I’m going to promote others to tell their story and I’m going to share the f— out of it,” Cahill said.
A Lowell activist group, Change is Now, also uploaded a video online following the news of the abuse of Weimar. The video, posted on Facebook, includes pictures of women who have died at the prison as a result of abuse or medical neglect.
“Lowell Correctional family, friends and formerly incarcerated have sat silent long enough while our daughters, sisters, mothers, aunts, grandmothers and other women incarcerated in Lowell Correctional Institution have been harmed in one way or another,’’ Change is Now said in a press announcement about Saturday’s protest.
Lowell Correctional Institution, run by the Florida Department of Corrections, has a long history of human rights violations. The beating of Weimar is now under investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Department of Corrections. No officers have been charged or fired.
“It is imperative that the public find out what happened here and that the public have access to the videotapes showing Cheryl beaten to within an inch of her life,” said Andrews. “What happens behind the walls at Lowell is evil.”
Source: Miami Herald 9/7/19; WFTV 9 ABC 9/8/19