Upstream. A Mohawk Valley Blogzine.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Should Beating Sex Offenders Be Part Of Jail House Recreation?

I don’t know anyone who isn’t happy that Thomas DeVito is in jail, unless its DeVito himself. DeVito pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree sexual abuse this past Wednesday in a case involving children in his former daycare. He would have gotten more time if Montgomery County D.A. Jed Conboy hadn’t bungled the first trial by prosecutorial misconduct. Instead of getting fifty years, DeVito got only getting seven. Think about that the next time there is an election for D.A. in Montgomery County. Now DeVito is suing Montgomery County for more than two million dollars because he claims he was beaten twice by inmates in the Montgomery County Jail. It would be easy to say that DeVito deserved to be beaten. That’s what I used to say about criminals who were assaulted in prison--they are just getting what they deserve. But over the years, I have changed my views.

Injustice and crime are still injustice and crime, no matter by whom they are committed, against whom they are committed, or where they are committed. My guess is that DeVito was beaten--sex offenders are often the target of other “self righteous” criminals who feel that “I may have beaten an old lady and stole her purse, but I didn’t molest any children.” Guards often look the other way when this happens.

When a prisoner assaults another prisoner it is a crime. If we are not going to tolerate violent crime outside of prison, we should not tolerate it in prison. Law abiding citizens are expected to keep the law; prisoners should be expected to as well.

In any event, an investigation should be launched to see if DeVito was assaulted. If so, charges should be brought against any prisoner involved. Charges should also be brought against any guard, doctor or other jail staff member who did nothing about it. The alleged beatings took place in 2002 and were reported by DeVito. Why wasn’t an investigation launched then?

By the way, this is the second major law suit in the past year against Montgomery County because of actions or the lack of action by the Sheriff’s Department. Think about that the next time you are voting for Sheriff of Montgomery County.

The bottom line is DeVito deserved to be put away for a long time, but he wasn’t because the D.A. messed up. Long prison terms for sex offenders is justice. On the other hand, prisoners assaulting other prisoners is not justice, it is vigilantism. When guards ignore such assaults they are no longer on the side of law and order, and it’s only the bars that separate them from the men and women they guard.

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