How offended is too offended?
I'm kidding. I'm sure East St. Louis is a fine, fine representative of the Illinois experience.
Anyway, I will assume you visited the link above, at this point. If you didn't though, here's the rundown: An inmate in the Broward County (Florida) Jail was convicted yesterday of misdemeanor exposure of sexual organs and sentenced to 60 days in jail.
What does exposure of sexual organs mean? In this case, "handy" self love. If you need further explanation, you don't deserve to eat fresh food or look both ways before crossing the street.
Now, this guy was "no saint (ha ha, pun intended)." He is a violent weasel, who is already serving a 10-year sentence for an armed robbery conviction.
But a female deputy at the jail saw him on video surveillance loving himself in his cell, more than 100 feet away from where she sat in a control room.
She was offended by what she saw. She said other inmates are a little more private about their self love. So this inmate was charged. A jury convicted him on the premise that his jail cell is not a private enough place to make self love in the open an acceptable act. He now has two months more to serve, in addition to the 10-year robbery sentence.
I am all for punishment. I say they should have locked him up twice as long for the armed robbery. But prosecuting this sort of act almost seems mean. Or am I nuts for thinking so? I mean, better he loves himself than a cellmate, right?
Besides, jail cells are semi-public places, a standard the jury considered in convicting this guy. Having worked as a jail counselor in the past - in my pre-reporter days - I can assure you that what you see on TV of jail cell toilets is accurate. Any inmate who uses the can does so in a sort of public manner. It can't be helped. There are no doors. So their naughty bits are bound to show sometimes. If a deputy happens to look up at the security monitor and see an inmate taking it out to relieve himself, the deputy will still see it. So is seeing it worse when the inmate is enjoying it than when he's whipped it out to perform a chore? Inmates lose rights and privileges when they get locked up. They should. On the flip side of that, when you sign up for a job "watching" convicts behind bars, I'm thinking you might see a few things you wouldn't see while working in a cubicle in an office tower somewhere.
But seriously, at what level of offense do we draw the line? So a college kid gets arrested for disorderly conduct for picking a fight at a bar. He's in the drunk tank. He and another inmate start chatting. The kid swears like a sailor in his conversation. A religious deputy overhears him and is offended by the cursing. Will that deputy be able to issue additional charges for public profanity or even more disorderly conduct? You're sitting on the phone at a sidewalk cafe, describing to your best buddy your sexual prowess from an encounter the night before. It's certainly distasteful. But what if a passing police officer hears you and gets offended - can he arrest you and recommend you be charged for being disorderly?
I understand that jail is not supposed to be fun. But, funny and absurd as this incident might be, this conviction bothers me.