By now the news of registered sex offender Charles Parker and his wife Gretchen being brutally slain in their home in rural South Carolina has spread beyond the boundaries of that state, although barely. A search for "sex offender" on a national database yields story after story about misconduct by registrants--parole violations, failure to register, a sexual assault, even a bank robbery in which the headlines loudly announce that the captured robber was also a sex offender--but, except for the affected counties in South Carolina, few seem to care that a husband and wife team, two crazed, skinhead vigilantes--self-proclaimed by words and tattoos--used the state's online registry as a hit list and road map to the Parkers' home and slaughtered them and, when apprehended, announced that they already had tomorrow's target picked out, another registrant chosen from the registry.
But that isn't what this post is about. That was covered in this press release that went across the state of South Carolina and to all other states as well.
This post is about something a psychologist said in an interview about the crime and the motive behind it.
" 'Parallel that to the prison system,' said psychologist Dr. Roger Rhoades. 'Are there a lot of sex offenders hurt or killed (there)? Yeah.'
Rhoades said that if you want to see some sense in what happened in Jonesville, you have to take a 'prison mindset,' and suddenly the case becomes clear.
'The bottom line is if this happened in a prison, there wouldn't even be a glitch, it would just be another day in prison life,' he said."
Did everyone get that? See some sense? The assault and murder of those in prison for a sexual offense is a commonplace, every-day event that makes sense within the prison context? And what makes this so horrible is...he is correct.
Violence in prison has always been accepted as just part of the penalty one pays for going there, especially for those with sexually-related offenses.
This is unacceptable. America imprisons more citizens per capita than any other civilized nation. America imprisons more citizens for sexual offenses than any other nation, period. It is totally unacceptable that men, women, and juveniles are thrown in prison for offenses ranging from trivial to serious, anything that can have the word "sex" attached to it, and then have those responsible for their safety turn their backs and shrug their shoulders and say, "Oh, well..." when they are raped, assaulted, and murdered.
To stop vigilantes from using sex offender registries as hit lists of their victims, registrants' addresses, at the very least, must be removed from public view, but a responsible governor can do this; it was done in Maine immediately following a vigilante murder there of two registrants.
But what will it take to stop those with sexual offenses from being brutalized and murdered in prison? What will it take for the public to stop seeing that as just something that happens, something that makes sense? What will it take?