It’s comforting to know that some things never change. The traditional pecking order in prisons is alive and well.
Just the other day 23-year-old Jacob Smith of Forsyth, Missouri, who was an inmate at the federal prison in Beaumont, Texas, was sentenced to 150 months in prison for a deadly assault on another inmate.
Apparently Smith and another prisoner at the medium correctional facility entered the cell of inmate Edward Lee Bowlin, who they believed was guilty of crimes related to sexual contact with children.
They assaulted Bowlin with their hands and feet and then left the cell. Smith later returned to Bowlin’s cell and continued to beat him. Bowlin suffered serious head and brain trauma and lapsed into a coma, where he remained until his death on Nov. 25, 2013.
One problem: They attacked the wrong man.
Smith was indicted by a federal grand jury on Aug. 7, 2013.
Prisoners locked up for sexual crimes, especially if the crimes are committed against children, are not highly regarded by other inmates. The crimes they committed are indeed despicable and punishment through proper channels is definitely in order.
But punishment administered by other prisoners, who may or may not have all the facts available to them, is uncalled for. First of all, the prison grapevine is notorious for dispensing unreliable information. The beat-down often goes to an individual who is locked up for traditional offenses such as robbery or theft that are not looked down upon by the criminal element.
In addition, the target of the attack, even if he or she did commit a heinous crime of a sexual nature, is already being punished in accordance with the laws of the land. A prison term is not supposed to be a vacation. While no corporal punishment is involved, life behind bars with little freedom of movement and little freedom of choice is hardly a picnic.
Inmates with nothing better to do than take out their frustrations on the low man on the totem pole would be better served spending their prison time reading books, improving their minds and preparing themselves for a day when they can rejoin society as productive human beings.