NC women prisoners sue over sexual violence
Monday, November 23 2009 @ 10:05 pm Contributed by: Vikki Law
On August 24, 1974, Joan Little, a twenty-one-year-old black woman and the only female prisoner in North Carolina’s Beaufort County Jail, killed Clarence Alligood, a sixty-two-year-old white male guard. Alligood had entered her cell, threatened her with an ice pick and forced her to perform oral sex. She fled after stabbing him, but turned herself in eight days later.
Little was charged with first-degree murder which, in North Carolina, carried a mandatory death sentence.
During her trial, Little’s defense exposed the chronic sexual abuse and harassment endured by women in the jail and prison system. Countering the prosecution’s argument that Little had enticed Alligood into her cell with promises of sex, the defense team called on women who had previously been held at the jail. They testified that Alligood had a history of sexually abusing women in his custody: one woman stated that he had fondled her breasts while bringing her a late-night sandwich; another recalled that he had suggested that she had been in jail long enough to need a man.
Little testified that Alligood had come to her cell three times that night. After she refused his advances twice, he returned with an ice pick. “By then, I had changed into my nightgown. He was telling me I really looked nice in my gown, and he wanted to have sex with me,” she stated. “He said he had been nice to me, and it was time I was nice to him. I told him I didn’t feel like I should be nice to him that way.”
Apparently, not much has changed in the NC jail and prison system since then: