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?

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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?


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.

Aren’t all criminal court sentences public records?

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?

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.

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.”

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.

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.

Another factor actually is empathy: Many inmates have children, and the child that was molested could have been their child.