Tuesday, October 9, 2012

'Given the horrific nature of Jerry Sandusky's crimes, will the public care what happens to him in prison?'

Jerry Sandusky's misconduct is both universally and properly reviled. It would be overly-charitable to characterize as "delusional" Mr. Sandusky's continued insistence that he is guilty only of bad judgment.

But when Mr. Sandusky is sentenced to prison today, he may be at increased risk of becoming a victim of the very act that he, himself, committed on numerous helpless boys. That should be a concern to all persons of good will even though such concern will not be a natural impulse.

. . . child molesters are reviled inside prison walls just as they are on the outside, and are often subjected to physical and verbal abuse, including sexual assault. Given the horrific nature of Sandusky's crimes, will the public care what happens to him in prison?

"The Sandusky case is one of those moments when our core beliefs are really tested," said Lovisa Stannow, executive director of Just Detention International, a group that fights prison rape. "This is a moment when it's especially crucial to recognize that nobody ever deserves to be raped. No matter who you are, sexual violence and rape is wrong, it's a crime, and it is something we have to fight."

Jerry Sandusky is no more worthy of concern, or protection from sexual abuse, than is any other inmate in the state's custody. But his high-profile case serves as a reminder to all of us that the problem of prison rape is real and should not be ignored. Even people who have committed evil acts do not "deserve" brutal, vigilante justice while in the state's custody, and we must insist that the state protect them from such brutality.