The Bureau of Prisons is attempting to follow the Attorney General’s directive to reduce the prison population in response to COVID-19. Officials are scouring records in an attempt to find those who are worthy of home confinement. They are using certain risk factors as their criteria. Just today, it has been reported that in their effort to set more free amid lawsuits and public scrutiny, they are now looking at those who have served less than half of their original sentence.
They are not considering anyone accused of a computer sex crime (even though sex crimes have one of the lowest recidivism rates). Any person, who looked at or downloaded an illegal image is deemed ineligible for home confinement. In fact, they are considered violent criminals (which is a seriously biased definition of the term “violent”). They do not take into account that many inmates with these charges have served exceptionally long, overly punitive sentences; a fact that many in the criminal justice world will admit. Even the United States Sentencing Commission has addressed the issue of overly harsh sentencing due to the fact that these guidelines were set up before the prevalence of computers in our society.
Now, once again, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the BOP is playing on the fears and ignorance of the public. Their decision is resulting in the deaths of people who deserve better from our government. I am begging you not to turn already harsh sentences into death sentences.
The most recent inmate to die from Oakdale was George Jeffus. He was serving time for child pornography related charges. He was elderly, 76 years old and had health issues. He had already served the majority of his sentence. He was the absolute perfect candidate for consideration. Clearly, he was at high risk for COVID-19 and met all the criteria. And yet, by a warped, out-of-date, cruel or ignorant policy, he was deemed too dangerous to be considered or to be saved. By BOP standards, his life was apparently not worth saving. Did some pictures that this gentleman looked at years ago really warrant putting him to death now? No one would answer in the affirmative to that question and yet, that is exactly what happened.
There are men, right now, in all our prisons, first time offenders who looked at the wrong thing on their computers. Images they absolutely should never have viewed but do not as a result deserve a death sentence. Many men, like George Jeffus have been behind bars for over a decade. Many men have only a few years left to serve. Many men have grave health issues. And these men are being ignored for participation in this program. Why? Why? Why? Please do not allow others to suffer the fate of Mr. Jeffus
An inmate who knew Mr. Jeffus wrote the following about him:
“I just wanted to say a few things about the last inmate to die here at Oakdale. He lived 7 cells down from me. I read the press release and it just said his age and his charges which always sound worse than they actually are. George Jeffus always had a good attitude and a good word for you. He had a daughter that sent him car magazines that he liked. I shared them with him too. He was a veteran who served in Germany in the sixties, the same time as my father. He liked football and always asked me about the Vols because I am from Tennessee. He didn’t have that much time left here and HE DIDN’T DESERVE TO DIE IN PRISON. It just has weighed on my mind when I read that little thing about his life”.
It is time we all rethink the punitive nature of our society and of our Judicial system. Every single inmate behind those walls has value. They have families that love them and stand beside them no matter what they have done….because that is what families do. EVERYONE deserves a second chance in life. NO ONE deserves to die at the hands of a fearful, ignorant, misguided or willfully brutal system of justice. It is an absolute mandate to protect these inmates and save their lives – not to destroy or end those lives.
Laurie Draper Jones (email@example.com)
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11 thoughts on “It is time we rethink our approach!”
Ladies, I think I may have some evidence-based peer-reviewed studies and stats that may help. Plus I’m seeking a constitutional lawyer to bring these cases before a federal court. I have been advocating for a man I hardly knew for three years now for free. I will post some here And see what you think.
My son went through a terrible family scuff and came with the short stick.It is a money racket for government. So far in one yr over 1000 dollars and still counting. Fees for this and that. And you have rights to say no. What a joke,say no go back to prison. Sign papers you disagree with or go back to prison. That’s your only rights. Unless you got 50,000.00 or more No lawyer would help. Public defender is joke. It’s all about their jobs.
I just want to say thank you for being willing to tackle such a difficult topic. I completely agree- particularly regarding their view of the definition of a “violent criminal.”
You all sit and “tsk” “tsk” how wrong all of this, but what are YOU doing about this??? Nobody will listen to those of us who are registered because we are the offenders and all they hear is “whining”. Look, I have even contacted the ACLU about having my information taken off of private internet sites, the ACLU will not touch me with a ten foot pole. So what are all of YOU non-offenders doing about this. I did not pass these laws, YOU people are doing this so YOU need to stop what is happening to us. You tell me how wrong all of this and how damaging it is….dont you think I know this by now??? You are sitting there looking at a drowning person and saying “hey, why dont you get flotation device?”…..while you are sitting on the boat full of them…..
Has anyone on here had a loved one charged with possession of child porn through websites aka “Chat Roulettes” like Omegle? If so I would love to hear your story. I have been to my US senator in regards to these sites being regulated by Federal law and I was told that these sites are protected under freedom of speech. My issue is these sites are protected but those that receive untraceable links containing child porn through these sites shave no protection under the law? What is wrong here. Similar concept to those making/distributing face no legal action but those in possession do. I have been advised to consider filing a class action against such roulette forcing legislation that will regulate. I need more families/individuals that have been affected by such sites.
How do I know the websites was “Chat Roulettes” like Omegle? I need to talk to you. 321-624-4576
Why is it a terrible crime to look at the porn? Wouldn’t it make more sense to punish the one posting the porn. Tobacco companies are punished more than cigarettes buyers.
Irredeemable, unsaveable, dangerous, predators , violent, not worth the time or effort, etc. All because of CP. Both men and women share those labels.
Yet so many have never touched a child in a sexual way.
How can a person be any of those labels having never touched or wanted to touch a child in that manner?
Ageed. The Draconian sentences that target young and middle-aged men not only put families at risk but society as a whole. We, as a society, lose in three different ways. First of all we have to pay for the incarceration of each person with our taxes. Second, that family that had that income now possibly can’t make ends meet and must go on public assistance to survive. Third, Society loses the productivity that person would have contributed over a decade or more. We lose the production or services they would have provided, the taxes they would have generated, and the contribution to the communities they reside in. The laws are outdated and they need to be changed.
The sentences for computer images are not just time served (usually 10-20 years) but lifetime probation. Curfews, weekly counseling they must pay for. Letters are delivered to 35 neighbors telling them a ‘sex offender’ is moving to their neighborhood. The releasing to home will include curfews and daily/nightly checks by the probation officer. This is in addition to the Registry which is on the Internet. At the same time they must obtain employment. Seeking employment for a felon is almost impossible not to mention the Registry….a probation officer can have the person who is released back to prison for violation. The sentence is a life sentence….for viewing images on the computer. Thank you Laurie for writing your wonderful article.
You speak the truth!!! The laws concerning sex offenses are out of date and based on fear, not facts. The public needs to know that politicians use fear and hysteria about sex offenses to get themselves elected as this topic is low hanging fruit. There are so many categories of sex offenses and 1000s of laws regarding these crimes. The net is broad and not all offenses or those accused of those offenses are the same. Quite the contrary. No one knows this better than the federal government. Keep them safe or let them out!