That fight – to ensure jailed women were protected from the kind of sexual assault she suffered – is the reason the Tallahassee woman she is alive today. After being released from jail, when she was battling her rapist and facing obstacles at every step, she wanted to give up.
“My daughters didn’t deserve to have me as a mom — known all over the state as a woman being raped in prison -- having to deal with that embarrassment,” she said. “There was no justice for me, and I just decided I was gonna take some pills and give up on life.”
“It didn’t work,” she said.
She said she realized that she is meant to make a difference in the world and she is alive today to keep working at that goal.
As opposed to the other members of the focus group who participated in this story, Collins was not incarcerated within one of Florida’s prisons, but in a county jail in Quincy. She said she landed there after a felony conviction over bad checks when she was sentenced to six months.
During that time, she was put on a work-release program that allowed her to come home and spend time with her daughters every day. She said it was the best thing that ever happened to her.
Her children were 11 and 13 at the time, and although her sister took them in, they wanted their mom. They didn’t visit her in jail. She didn’t want them to see her there.
But that program came at a cost. A jail administrator demanded she pay him to stay in the program – or have sex with him. She paid him.
Over the few months she spent there, she said she gave him $5,000, and then decided that was enough. She wouldn’t pay anymore.
It was then that she said Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Roosevelt Baker took the other option – he raped her while she was on release from the jail.
“He took me and raped me at a cemetery. At gunpoint,” she said.
Even after she was released from jail, she said the threats never stopped. Baker would show up at her house, she said, and call her to tell her about what would happen if she ever reported the crime.
Finally, “I just got tired of the threatening phone calls,” she said, “and made up my mind, one day I was going to the state attorney.”
When she failed to win at the state level, she pushed the case to Washington and a federal attorney investigated the case. Although her case failed again, Baker was finally convicted at the federal level of sexually assaulting a female deputy.
Baker was sentenced to five years in prison.