Keep True Monsters Behind Bars

Many years ago a county jail inmate telephoned me to insist I write a story about his civil rights being violated. It seems he’d been beaten severely – by police officers, he claimed – while incarcerated.

Now, you can list me firmly as being against police brutality – when it really occurs. But in my experience, there often is another side to such claims. Sometimes criminals are hurt resisting arrest. On other occasions they had suffered injuries before the cops ever showed up.

Sometimes they inflict injuries on themselves or ask fellow inmates to rough them up just a bit so they can claim police brutality.

I don’t know what happened in the case mentioned above. I do know the inmate was in jail for beating up his girlfriend and her small child.

That memory came back to me Friday, as I heard about another child abuse situation. A reporter gave me details it’s unlikely will ever be published in the paper. They are simply too stomach-turning. Suffice it to say a man allegedly molested a child sexually in ways I hope you can’t imagine.

Children suffer harm at the hands of others in many ways. Sometimes parents just don’t embrace the responsibility that comes with having children. Sometimes drugs or alcohol are at fault. And sometimes, kids hurt other kids.

But adults who intentionally harm children fall into a different category. There’s a word for it: evil.

When such monsters are caught, they ought to be locked up – preferably in the most spartan circumstances possible – for the rest of their lives. There’s no rehabilitating a man (almost always, males are the villains) who hurts children on purpose.

Where you draw the line on whether to send a child abuser to prison forever is a tricky thing. Those guilty of relatively minor, perhaps even unintentional, abuse probably deserve breaks.

But does the law have any sort of ironclad protection against releasing the true monsters back into society – and in all likelihood, putting other children at risk?

I don’t know. But if there’s any doubt, it’s something prosecutors and legislators ought to make it a priority to rectify – for our own peace of mind, if for no other reason.

Surely there’s a way to ensure those who victimize children in horrific ways spend the rest of their days as miserably as possible, with no chance of being released.

Myer can be reached at: