The Most Despised

A-Block at Alcatraz

There is a social ladder behind prison bars as rigid as any on Palm Beach or Martha’s Vineyard , and on the very bottom rung is the child killer and molester.

The most despised too, as I was reminded by Sunday’s AJC in a fine piece by Bill Rankin about the grisly murder of child molester Steven O’Bara five years ago behind the grim gray walls of the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary, known as “The Big A.

Last April, a U.S. district court jury split down the middle on whether to execute O’Bara’s cellmate and killer, Brian Richardson, a tattooed, shaven headed armed robber, for stabbing O’Bara nine times with a prison fashioned knife, and stepping on his cellmate’s throat before strangling him with a sock. A unanimous verdict is required for a death sentence.

Richardson had admitted to the FBI he killed O’Bara, who was serving 10 years for molestation and possession of child pornography. I’m sure that in child killer/molester Ryan Brunn’s case earlier this year, his attorneys did their job: convincing him that the jury would return a death sentence along with his conviction of murder for luring Jorelys Rivera,7, with a roller skate to a vacant apartment, cutting her throat and beating her with the skate, and ditching her body in the trash compactor of the complex where he lived as the groundskeeper.

I’m convinced that Brunn,20, was told in great detail by other inmates and some guards as well what he faced for rest of his life as the lowest of the low. The most despised, too. I heard for nearly four decades as an AJC reporter, from prison and jail officials, guards and former convicts that no offender is held in more disgust and contempt than the child molester.

And at 7, Jorelys was undeniably a child, even in an era where girls only twice her age, and even younger, are pimped as prostitutes.

Not only was Brunn’s crime horrific, criminal defense attorneys contend acts like his only feed a punitive public appetite for more executions and longer prison sentences. ” Give ’em the needle!” Or,”Lock ’em up and throw away the key!”

His crime was as senseless, though not as disgusting, as the infamous Jeffrey Dahmer, back in the ’80s, I think. Dahmer murdered a young teenage boy he had picked up, and cannibalized his victim’s body. As l recall, Dahmer was murdered in prison by a fellow inmate.

Given the nature of their crimes, I feel that convicted child molesters that are not sentenced to death need to be isolated from the prison “general population” under security measures akin to that of inmates on awaiting execution on Death Row. In short, behind bars 23 hours a day, except for an hour “in the yard” under constant observation.

You can make an argument that keeping them clothed, housed, and fed for the rest of their lives is a waste of the taxpayers’ money. I won’t disagree, though the fraction of a mill levied from from my retirement pennies for these creeps’ livelihoods won’t keep me awake nights.

Even though it is more than they deserves.

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Image credit: A-Block at Alcatraz by Nonie from his flickr photostream under creative commons licenses via Wikimedia Commons.
Bill Montgomery

Bill Montgomery

Bill Montgomery, aka "Monty," packed it in a few years back after 38 years as a reporter with the AJC, covering mostly crime and other forms of public insanity, such as political campaigns, strip club crackdowns, and the Georgia legislature. His career includes coverage of zanies that run the gamut from Lester Maddox and J.B. Stoner to Larry Flynt, and crime reporting that followed the 1973 Alday family killings in South Georgia to the execution of ringleader Carl Isaacs 30 years later, and the 20-year saga of Palm Beach millionaire James V. Sullivan, who hired the murder of his estranged wife at her Buckhead condo by a gunman packing a pistol in a box of roses. Montgomery lives in a Decatur condo with his wife Linda and their Boston terrier.