I'm not the only one who thought it worth commenting on the sentencing of a 5' 1" sex offender to probation because he was thought to be too short to survive prison. A lot more people have chimed in. The various interest groups responded as one would expect: a group fighting sexual assaults said it showed more concern for the criminal than for the victim. The Secretary of the National Organization of Short Statured Adults thought it was good that "somebody [was] looking out for someone who is a short person," but the organization has disavowed those comments (and has dismissed the guy who made them). The state ACLU director however, pointed out that there was no constitutional protection on the basis of height, and said no one had ever complained to them about height discrimination.
Very predictably, the prison authorities disputed that the defendant would be in danger, pointing out that there are shorter male inmates in their general population. I kind of doubt they were convicted of having sex with a 12-year old, though--child molesters don't fare very well in prisons, regardless of height. The prison spokesman also pointed out there were protections for inmates who feel threatened. What that generally means is voluntary solitary confinement--not a very attractive alternative to someone facing 10 years.
I think the larger question is whether our criminal justice system is incarcerating too many people to begin with. The U.S. prison population is soaring, especially with drug offenders--people who frequently get no help in combatting their addictions while incarcerated. They come out of jail in worse shape than when they went in, and frequently return to their old habits, and get caught again, to serve even longer prison terms. The prisons are packed, and there is no hope of protecting the weaker inmates, other than by solitary confinement.
My feeling in this case is that the judge did the right thing. Her strict terms of probation (together with the sex offender registration laws) have a decent chance to keep the defendant from repeating his crime. We need more judges who can figure out ways to keep the prison population down, while still protecting the public. And I firmly believe that potential lengthy prison terms do almost nothing to deter these crimes. We are not talking about people who sit down and rationally consider the risk/reward ratio of satisfying their desire to have sex with a child. To be blunt, they are thinking with their pricks, not their brains.
As for legally male transwomen, I think they should be kept separate from the general male prison population--and probably from the general female one, also. I have heard the New York State prison system has a unit for such people. But the New York City system recently closed down its unit for gay and trans male inmates. They said they could protect these people in the general population. I'm very skeptical. The Sylvia Rivera Law Project has protested the closure.
2 hours ago