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Old 07-11-2018, 03:55 PM
bardos bardos is offline
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question about sex-offenders in prison

I've been watching some prison documentaries on youtube and it seems that one of the things all prisons have in common is a special hate towards sex-offenders. Like it's open season on them and they are often placed in some segregated unit to avoid becoming the victims of prison violence. My question is why are they singled out for this type of prisoner punishment? It's heinous stuff they have committed, but it's like all the murderers, violent criminals, thieves and drug pushers are placing themselves on a moral pedestal and there is only one evil class of offenders that they have a moral duty to eradicate. What's with this attitude?
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Old 07-11-2018, 04:38 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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Originally Posted by bardos View Post
I've been watching some prison documentaries on youtube and it seems that one of the things all prisons have in common is a special hate towards sex-offenders. Like it's open season on them and they are often placed in some segregated unit to avoid becoming the victims of prison violence. My question is why are they singled out for this type of prisoner punishment? It's heinous stuff they have committed, but it's like all the murderers, violent criminals, thieves and drug pushers are placing themselves on a moral pedestal and there is only one evil class of offenders that they have a moral duty to eradicate. What's with this attitude?
A lot of prisoners are themselves the former victims of sexual abuse. So there's an attitude that murder or assault is something that happens to other people and sex crimes are something that happened to them personally. (Empathy's not a big thing in prison.)

As for theft and drug dealing, those are just seen as businesses. Getting caught and doing time is just one of the possible costs of business. Unless you steal something from another prisoner; then it becomes personal and a violent response is likely. Being a jailhouse thief is more dangerous than being a child abuser.
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Old 07-11-2018, 04:44 PM
Mean Mr. Mustard Mean Mr. Mustard is offline
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So how does everyone know all the inmates' offenses? Do they announce it when they are first brought into the joint?

"Oyez oyez oyez, draw near; we present to you Mr. John Kinglebanger, serial child molester."


mmm
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Old 07-11-2018, 05:04 PM
Asuka Asuka is offline
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Originally Posted by Mean Mr. Mustard View Post
So how does everyone know all the inmates' offenses? Do they announce it when they are first brought into the joint?

"Oyez oyez oyez, draw near; we present to you Mr. John Kinglebanger, serial child molester."


mmm
I forgot where I heard it, but generally clean-cut middle aged white men who are sent to a maximum security prison are there for two things, Involuntary manslaughter (usually drunk driving) or child molestation, and its easy to suss such and such out.

Similarly there's a robust enough information network inside prisons where somebody who has some inside info from the guards or is actively monitoring news outside the prison can find out what a person who was just brought in was charged with. Generally child molestation cases tend to draw quite a bit of news compared to felony burglary or drug offenses.
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Old 07-11-2018, 05:14 PM
filmore filmore is offline
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On an episode of "Lockup", one prisoner described it as trying to do something good for society. Not just for justice for the victim, but his belief was that the offender would attack another child once he got out. It seems odd that murders would have that sort of belief, since they also may also reoffend. But I guess they have a need to feel superior. It may also be easier to view kids as innocent victims. They may view murder victims as deserving it for some reason.
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Old 07-11-2018, 05:25 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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Originally Posted by Mean Mr. Mustard View Post
So how does everyone know all the inmates' offenses? Do they announce it when they are first brought into the joint?
Nowadays, it's because of the internet. Prisoners talk to their families on the outside and have them look up fellow prisoners.

But it was a problem even before the internet made it easy. My experience was that a lot of sex offenders seemed to have a compulsion to tell people about their crimes. The rational part of their brain knew it was a bad idea but they did it anyway. Of course, the rational art of their brain knew it was a bad idea to have sex with a twelve year old and they did that as well. I assume the pedophiles with good impulse control don't commit crimes and end up in prison.
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Old 07-11-2018, 05:33 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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I've heard that murderers actually have a very low rate of repeat offense, because most murders are crimes of passion, committed in the spur of the moment, and almost immediately regretted.
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Old 07-11-2018, 06:23 PM
Si Amigo Si Amigo is offline
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Many murderers are in for life or at least sentences so long that they will have "grown out" of the murder phase of their life. That and the passion thing makes repeats fairly rare.

Sex offenders crimes are a matter of public record, its always been easy to find out, even back in the day when a reputation was founded on word of mouth. If you knew people from their area you could find out all sorts of things. It was the original six degrees of separation thing.

Also, sex offenders are well known to have high rates of repeat offenses. So taking one out gives you status.

Last edited by Si Amigo; 07-11-2018 at 06:27 PM.
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Old 07-11-2018, 07:53 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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I've heard that murderers actually have a very low rate of repeat offense, because most murders are crimes of passion, committed in the spur of the moment, and almost immediately regretted.
I don't think that's necessarily true. It's like the impulse control I spoke of earlier. Everyone has to deal with things like stress and conflict. Some people are able to handle themselves and not get violent. Other people, when confronted with a stressful situation, stab or shoot somebody.

They may regret it immediately afterwards but that doesn't undo their willingness to pull the trigger a few seconds earlier. Non-murderers are the people who either never felt the urge to kill or were able to stop before they pulled the trigger.

A person is going to encounter stressful situations throughout their life. If it's their nature to respond to stressful situations with lethal violence, it's probably going to happen again.

Last edited by Little Nemo; 07-11-2018 at 07:54 PM.
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Old 07-11-2018, 08:04 PM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is offline
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Convicted child sex offenders whose crimes were looking at images online only seem to have it less tough in the institutions I work with. If it's known a guy actually assaulted a child, their stay may be rocky, but a lot of felons seem to overlook what they consider 'victimless' crimes (no, they're not victimless, just telling you what my patients often think) like looking at pics, or being arrested for picking up a police officer online who's pretending to be underage.

Just an observation, not sure if it's happening in general. Little Nemo, any thoughts on that?
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Old 07-11-2018, 08:32 PM
UltraVires UltraVires is offline
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I think it is because everyone has a need to at least be a notch above the lowest of the lowest classes of society.

Sure I might be a petty thief and murdered that one guy that got in my way, but I would never harm a child like that. Sicko. Let's kick his ass.
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Old 07-11-2018, 10:10 PM
Melbourne Melbourne is offline
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When you're in prison for murder, who else is left for you to look down on? And how else can you demonstrate that you are a worthy citizen, other than by punishing bad people?
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Old 07-12-2018, 12:44 AM
DavidwithanR DavidwithanR is offline
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Originally Posted by UltraVires View Post
I think it is because everyone has a need to at least be a notch above the lowest of the lowest classes of society.

Sure I might be a petty thief and murdered that one guy that got in my way, but I would never harm a child like that. Sicko. Let's kick his ass.
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When you're in prison for murder, who else is left for you to look down on? And how else can you demonstrate that you are a worthy citizen, other than by punishing bad people?
These.

Sentencing lengths would seem to indicate that, in general, society views murder as a worse offence than anything else, but it's relatively easy for a murderer (or anyone) to rationalize feeling superior to and hating someone whose victims couldn't possibly have "deserved" what was done to them. "At least I'm better than that guy" is a very attractive (to the one who's thinking it) and even sort of addictive statement to make.

And - I'm not sure about this part - maybe for "sense of belonging" to make sense in its usual way, a person needs an example of someone who doesn't belong, as a comparison. Maybe? I hope not, I don't know.
  #14  
Old 07-12-2018, 03:15 AM
Monty Monty is offline
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Originally Posted by Si Amigo View Post
Sex offenders crimes are a matter of public record, its always been easy to find out, even back in the day when a reputation was founded on word of mouth.
Aren't all criminal court sentences public records?
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Old 07-12-2018, 04:26 AM
Alley Dweller Alley Dweller is offline
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Just out of curiosity. the OP just said "sex offenders." Most of the replies are about child sex offenders.

I have certainly heard that child sex offenders are treated badly in prison. Is the same true of people who commit sex crimes against adults?
  #16  
Old 07-12-2018, 04:56 AM
AK84 AK84 is offline
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From what I have seen (and Little Nemo and Qadgop the Mercotan will be able to say better), vulnerable prisoners tend to be youths(18-25) sex offenders, child killers and traitors. The last was surprising, apparently prisoners are a patriotic lot.
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Old 07-12-2018, 06:54 AM
spifflog spifflog is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UltraVires View Post
I think it is because everyone has a need to at least be a notch above the lowest of the lowest classes of society.

Sure I might be a petty thief and murdered that one guy that got in my way, but I would never harm a child like that. Sicko. Let's kick his ass.
Another +1 on this.

I've always thought the Hollywood pushed "code of the prison" that all prisoners have done bad things, but that whole kid touching thing is just to far! is a lot of nonsense. Prison is a community onto itself, and anything that helps to stratify that community is probably by those who need to feel a need to boost themselves. We see it on the outside, in different ways, all the time.

I don't buy this variation on "honor among thieves."

Last edited by spifflog; 07-12-2018 at 06:56 AM.
  #18  
Old 07-12-2018, 08:40 AM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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Originally Posted by Qadgop the Mercotan View Post
Convicted child sex offenders whose crimes were looking at images online only seem to have it less tough in the institutions I work with. If it's known a guy actually assaulted a child, their stay may be rocky, but a lot of felons seem to overlook what they consider 'victimless' crimes (no, they're not victimless, just telling you what my patients often think) like looking at pics, or being arrested for picking up a police officer online who's pretending to be underage.

Just an observation, not sure if it's happening in general. Little Nemo, any thoughts on that?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alley Dweller View Post
Just out of curiosity. the OP just said "sex offenders." Most of the replies are about child sex offenders.

I have certainly heard that child sex offenders are treated badly in prison. Is the same true of people who commit sex crimes against adults?
I can't say I have enough experience in cases of this to make judgements on distinctions like this. My gut feeling is there is some graduation. A guy who molested children is going to seen as worse than a guy who looked at child porn online or a guy who targeted adults. But it's not like there's a sharp dividing line between who is seen as acceptable and who isn't. And it wouldn't be universal; a prisoner whose sister was raped might hate all rapists while another prisoner, who doesn't know any rape victims, might be indifferent.
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Old 07-12-2018, 08:49 AM
filmore filmore is offline
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One other thing I noticed during the interviews of child molesters on "Lockup" is that they often still seem to idealize the relationship with the child. They still speak fondly of them and may say that the child had an old soul or that they were soulmates or some nonsense like that. I assume a lot of people would find that kind of talk disgusting, including hardened criminals.
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Old 07-12-2018, 08:50 AM
Annie-Xmas Annie-Xmas is offline
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Another factor actually is empathy: Many inmates have children, and the child that was molested could have been their child.
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Old 07-12-2018, 10:36 PM
Melbourne Melbourne is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alley Dweller View Post
Just out of curiosity. the OP just said "sex offenders." Most of the replies are about child sex offenders.

I have certainly heard that child sex offenders are treated badly in prison. Is the same true of people who commit sex crimes against adults?
Straight up violent rape is a crime sometimes committed against young women, old women, nuns and nurses. That is, against other people in the "protected" category, like children.

From the testimony of prison guards I've known, some rapists have had a pretty rough time in jail, but not in general enough to automatically get protective custody.
  #22  
Old 07-12-2018, 10:56 PM
Dickerman Dickerman is offline
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There's a popular notion that a lot of rape goes on in prison. It would seem if it was looked down upon so much, this wouldn't be the case. What gives?
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Old 07-12-2018, 11:32 PM
Lamoral Lamoral is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alley Dweller View Post
Just out of curiosity. the OP just said "sex offenders." Most of the replies are about child sex offenders.

I have certainly heard that child sex offenders are treated badly in prison. Is the same true of people who commit sex crimes against adults?
I know a guy who served four years in prison for sexual offense. He was involved with an underage girl who had lied about her age. Her parents got wind of it and pressed charges. This wasn't Romeo and Juliet shit though; the guy was in his 50s and the girl was 16. The official charge, on his official record, was child molestation.

He told me that nobody messed with him in prison even though they knew what his charges were, and I believe him, because

1. He is a decorated Army officer who served in combat in three wars (Vietnam, Gulf, very beginning of Iraq invasion). He looks like and carries himself like what he is, a professional soldier.

2. He helped other prisoners with their legal shit because he had a working knowledge of the legal system.

I have no comment here on the situation that resulted in his imprisonment, other than that he acknowledges that he fucked up, and had/has the full support of his family throughout, and after, his incarceration. He never had any brushes with the law before or since.
  #24  
Old 07-13-2018, 12:32 AM
bardos bardos is offline
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OP here.... Off-topic but I was wondering:

How in blazes did we avoid a "Need answer fast?" reply in this thread?
  #25  
Old 07-13-2018, 04:23 AM
EricaRoche EricaRoche is offline
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Is it true that most prisoners were sexually abused as children?
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Old 07-13-2018, 08:22 AM
Lamoral Lamoral is online now
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Most prisoners are in prison for bullshit reasons.
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Old 07-13-2018, 09:45 AM
MichaelEmouse MichaelEmouse is online now
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Over here: https://youtu.be/GRYcSuyLiJk?t=2656

Robert Sapolsky, a Stanford biology professor shows a chart of the interaction of genes, environment and behavioral traits. One gene results in antisocial, violent behavior if it's combined with childhood abuse. Another result in angry temperament if combined with childhood sexual abuse.

I'm guessing that a fair number of people in prison have an axe to grind with people who abuse children.
  #28  
Old 07-13-2018, 09:59 AM
Fotheringay-Phipps Fotheringay-Phipps is online now
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Originally Posted by UltraVires View Post
I think it is because everyone has a need to at least be a notch above the lowest of the lowest classes of society.

Sure I might be a petty thief and murdered that one guy that got in my way, but I would never harm a child like that. Sicko. Let's kick his ass.
I agree with this, but I would just add that it's a form of "cheap grace".

Fact is that the vast majority of people, no matter how evil and immoral they might be, would never molest a child, simply because they have no urge to do so. Pedophiles are a very small percentage of the population. That doesn't apply to most other crimes, which arise from urges and needs which are common in the population at large.

So if you're a criminal who has no moral compunctions, you might see yourself being a thief or murderer or doing any sort of other crime where the reward is something that you would enjoy. Even if you've not done any of those things, you can relate to the guy who did, and who knows if you might one day do them yourself. So you're not going to adopt a moral code under which those things are a special category of crime. But molesting a child is not something you would ever do or could imagine yourself ever doing. So it's very easy to adopt the position that this is a special category of evil that no one should ever be forgiven for doing. You get to feel good about your own moral standing and pay zero price for it.
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Old 07-13-2018, 11:35 AM
UltraVires UltraVires is offline
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I agree with this, but I would just add that it's a form of "cheap grace".

Fact is that the vast majority of people, no matter how evil and immoral they might be, would never molest a child, simply because they have no urge to do so. Pedophiles are a very small percentage of the population. That doesn't apply to most other crimes, which arise from urges and needs which are common in the population at large.

So if you're a criminal who has no moral compunctions, you might see yourself being a thief or murderer or doing any sort of other crime where the reward is something that you would enjoy. Even if you've not done any of those things, you can relate to the guy who did, and who knows if you might one day do them yourself. So you're not going to adopt a moral code under which those things are a special category of crime. But molesting a child is not something you would ever do or could imagine yourself ever doing. So it's very easy to adopt the position that this is a special category of evil that no one should ever be forgiven for doing. You get to feel good about your own moral standing and pay zero price for it.
This is a very good point and probably more accurate than mine. We not only see this in prison, but in society. It's easy, for example, for a devout Christian to condemn homosexuality when that is a "sin" that he simply has no desire to engage in. People who are not addicted to alcohol or drugs can peer down their noses at those who are simply because they are not genetically inclined to become addicted to controlled substances.

Racism is a closely related example. A poor white guy can say that a black man is inferior because, no matter what, he will never be a black man and fall victim to his own criticism.

So, in essence, the majority of the criminal code are at least things that we understand. Although neither you nor I would murder someone, we can understand how anger and hate would lead someone to do that. We would not drive home drunk from a bar, but could see why someone else might do that because he needed his car the next day. I would never smack my wife, but understand how someone with less anger control might do so in certain situations.

However, there are a minority of crimes that only apply to a minority of people who even have a desire to commit them. Pedophilia is definitely one.
  #30  
Old 07-13-2018, 02:55 PM
casdave casdave is offline
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Hi Quadgop & Little Nemo

Finally retired from the service so I can comment a little more openly - looks like we're a little club of our own on the Straightdope.

First thing that most of you probably do not realise is that offenders have a completely different metric to the logic of those who are not habitual offenders, and when it comes to prisoners the difference between your logic and theirs is even more stark.

What it means is that the reasons that you can imagine about why sex offenders are so hated by other prisoners will only slightly be covered by prison logic.

The poster who stated that prisoners like to have someone else to look down on is pretty much on the money, but the reasons for looking down are probably not what you expect. When people live in coercive communities, especially in communities where there is little self determination there is often a need to set themselves up somewhere in the pecking order by finding a perceived enemy.

We end up in a Looking Glass world where everything has a different logic and this works only in that particular environment. When outsiders to this world try to analyse the logic they will find a mass of logical contradictions.

For example most prisoners will claim they love their children - hence the hate for sex offenders, yet the vast majority have never provided competent parenting, stable family lives and are frequently violent to their children, and spouses, indeed quite a number of them will be in prison for violent acts toward close family members. Add in their offending behavior often deprives their families of material support and that prisoners main consideration is almost exclusively for themselves and for no other person.

By the standards of our own personal non-offenders logic, prisoners don't actually love their children in any meaningful way, except as personal possessions that can be owned and controlled. By most standards prisoners are often abusive to their children and families in ways that are pretty reprehensible, such as stealing and selling the personal property of their children, physical violence and gross neglect.

Offenders will then minimise the severity of their behavior - and generally transfer the blame for their offending on to others, or even that they simply 'cannot help themselves' and are in fact their own victims - is not common to find they accept fully the personal responsibility for their actions and it is less common still for prisoners to actually make genuine plans which are put into practice to make personal changes.

Prisoners will often portray themselves as underprivileged and victims of the social and criminal justice system by citing unjustified favourable treatment of other offenders - and this frequently means that they consider that sex offenders are somehow better treated, with lesser prison terms, more favourable treatment by the system in myriad ways. (it has to be said here that the vast majority of sex offenders tend to be very quiet and well behaved - and of course the prison system does tend to use good behavior as an incentive to earn greater privileges - but good behavior is an option that is available to all prisoners)

These are simply excuses to distract themselves from their own horrible nasty little personalities - its easier to point out the flaws in another stereotyped group of people than it is to look critically at oneself and ask the difficult questions.

In some ways the manner in which prisoners evaluate sex offenders is very similar to racism - it is based on false assumptions and stereotyping and hate.
  #31  
Old 07-13-2018, 05:34 PM
Grrr! Grrr! is online now
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I was watching "How to Survive Prison" on Netflix. One of the prison reform activists pointed out that even the murderers are not completely devoid of morality. Usually, there is a set of circumstances to caused them to "act in the moment", allowing their emotions to get the better of them.
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