I participated in a topic discussion recently on Warren Jeffs, the convicted leader of the Fundamentalist Latter-Day Saints Church. Jeffs was recently given a life sentence for two counts of aggravated sexual assault. Two of his 50 wives (and probably more, but only two were proven) were underage when he married them.
A life sentence is not getting off easy. A lifetime in prison takes away a person's freedom and liberty forever. But that was not enough for most of the people who replied to the topic.
Jeffs richly deserved his sentence. He ruled his illegal church through fear and institutionalized intimidation, ruined hundreds of lives, perverted everyone and every thing he touched, created his personal slave state, and certainly illegally married more than just two underaged girls. He awaits further prosecution on similar crimes that also carry a life sentence, so if convicted, he will be in prison until he dies there, erased from society forever. He will serve out his second sentence in a casket.
But that wasn't good enough for a lot of the respondents. They wanted him to be raped. Viciously. Daily, if possible, for as long as he's in prison.
For many, rape was the true sentence they wanted, and the imprisoning was nothing much.
Rape is a crime most savage, is too often under-prosecuted, and rapists often get away with their crime altogether. It is the one great vulnerability all parents fear for their girls, all women fear, and one our society loathes deeply. Rapists often get sentences that may be seen as being too light.
But a lifetime spent behind bars means the utter waste of a life. The person rots away, loses every meaningful relationship and possession that ever meant anything, and loses the only thing none of us ever get back- time.
Everything outside goes on as it will, and the convict is left out, left behind, becomes unimportant and is eventually forgotten. Every day in prison drags on and lasts as long as two days in freedom. Whatever a convict learns about himself never amounts to anything or anyone except himself, and that only makes his conviction all the harder to bear.
Warren Jeffs is a dictator who lead 10,000 faithful members of his church, and had all the sex he could handle, any time and any way he wanted. His followers built him a house in Texas the size of a motel to accommodate him and his 50 wives.
In his earlier years, he was a rapist, at least according to two men he molested as boys, but after he became the leader of the FLDS, his marriages were like the rest of his life; it was all about power, not sex. The kind of power most of us can't even imagine.
His marriages were a way to consolidate and keep his power. Fathering at least 70-100 children was another way to hold his position. He had Big Power. 10,000 people were at his beck and call, and it's all gone forever.
I think that Jeffs would do anything to get his power back, including being raped if that was what it took. The only thing he's afraid of is what his sentence gave him. It removes his power forever.
So why is there such a deep need to think that rape in prison is the only thing that is full justice? Why are so many of us enthusiastic with the thought of potential prison rape? When did mental pain become less painful than physical pain? Why is whipping a convict unthinkable, but raping him is okay? If torture is what we seek as full punishment, why not just brand a rapist on both cheeks, give him 50 lashes and turn him loose?
I began to be very troubled by the number of responses who wanted Jeffs to be raped, and started asking those questions. No one answered.
The last post to the topic thread was from a woman who responded after I posted my thoughts- she said she approved of only Jeffs being raped, as a special case, but not any others. I found that remark to be the most objectionable of all.