Prison isn’t intended to be a pleasant experience, but David Fathi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union National Prison Project, tells the Colorado Springs Independent that human and constitutional rights are often violated in institutions around the country, including in Colorado.

Westword’s Alan Prendergast examines one especially appalling case in a feature about Scott Howard, an openly gay inmate who served time in several Colorado prisons for fraud-related charges. Howard says he was subjected to regular threats, intimidation, extortion, and sexual assault at the hands of powerful gang members. His situation worsened, he adds, when he tried to report the problems to prison officials, whom he alleges were all too eager to either look the other way or blame Howard for the harassment because of his sexual orientation. He has taken his story public to help other inmates, speaking to groups like the American Correctional Association. “I really didn’t seek this,” Howard says. “But I can be a voice for those who aren’t being heard.”