Sunday, August 2, 2009

20 Year Sentence For Jailhouse Rape

A Pasco Washington man who was raped in jail while awaiting trial for an unpaid fine finally had the satisfaction of justice when his attacker, a 40 year old serial felon was sentenced to 20 years and five months in prison. The Tri City Herald reported as follows on the conclusion to the bizarre trial.

"David Webster will be 80 before he even gets the chance to walk out of prison a free man.

Thursday, Webster argued that his rights have been violated and he's been deprived "of life and liberty" since he was first accused of raping his Franklin County cellmate in September 2003.

But Judge Cameron Mitchell -- clearly annoyed with Webster's disruptive behavior and constant interruptions -- said everything had been fair and done by the book since the case was first charged four years ago. And because of that and Webster's conviction of second-degree rape, Webster deserved 20 years and five months in prison, the judge said.

The sentence at the high end of the range was appropriate "considering the (criminal) history that's been provided and what appears to this court to be a lack of concern for the rules of court and the rules of society," Mitchell said, before Webster again cut him off to rant about the elements of the current case and his 2003 conviction on unrelated charges.

Webster is already serving 26 years on that case. The new sentence will start only after that term is completed."

David Webster acted as his own attorney during the four years that his case worked its way through the criminal justice system. News reports reveal a series of disruptions and bizarre behavior that included singing at the opening of his trial. KEPR News reported as follows about the bizarre trial.

"Acting as his own attorney, David Webster serenaded the courtroom. And so began the trial of David Webster, defending himself on rape charges.

The case is one of the longest, drawn-out, and dramatic local cases and it finally began Wednesday.

"Won't let go, don't let go," David Webster sang in court. "Or was it like 'take me by the hand, won't let go."

"No one who was familiar with David Webster was at all expected him to quietly settle into a law abiding existence. His prior criminal record was a clear warning that he was a swath of destruction and a danger to anyone in his path. The News Tribune reports as follows on Webster's lengthy rap sheet.

1986 Arkansas: Webster was fighting with a cousin when another man stepped in to separate them and ended up stabbed in the shoulder and lung. Webster on another occasion took a purse from a woman. He was prosecuted as an adult for battery and theft and sentenced to six years in prison.

1986 Arkansas: Police saw Webster fight with a woman and point a hunting knife at her in a threatening manner. He was prosecuted as an adult for aggravated assault and given six years.

1986 Arkansas: Webster stole a riding lawn mower. He was prosecuted as an adult for theft and given six years.

1992 Arkansas: Webster pointed a handgun at several partygoers, then fired a shot in the direction of two people after an argument. He was tried for aggravated assault and being a felon with a gun and sentenced to five years.

1997 Arkansas: Webster's car was stopped after officers heard a gunshot. They found a sawed-off shotgun with the serial number plate marred. Webster got 60 months of probation and 300 community service hours.

1998 Arkansas: While on parole, Webster broke into his girlfriend's home, attacked her with a knife and slashed her in the face and body. She needed 44 stitches. He got five years for battery, which was served along with a parole revocation. He was released in June 2001. Six months later he moved to Washington in violation of parole.

2002 Pasco: He was charged with raping a woman he met at a bar, then beating her with a broken beer bottle and biting off her eyebrow when she fought off his advances. Then he tried to hire an undercover West Richland officer to "off" the woman so she couldn't testify. Convicted of assault and solicitation to commit first-degree murder, he was sentenced to 26 years.

Just months before that crime, Webster also was convicted in two separate cases of misdemeanor domestic violence assault and criminal trespassing. He got up to four months in jail in the Pasco Municipal Court cases.

Webster reportedly strangled and hit a woman he believed was "sleeping with another man," and told officers he'd had enough of her because she was too old. He also went into a home without permission.

The state background report also points out that Webster was arrested in 1997 for allegedly raping a woman who had been abducted from a parking lot by him and two other men. The victim reportedly was too embarrassed to press charges."

Why was this ticking time bomb allowed out in the free world with such a record of wanton disregard for society's most basic rules? And during the time he was in jail, was he segregated from men who had some hope of rehabilitation? How many such crimes as were detailed in David Webster's trial did he commit regularly in prison?

Judge Cameron Mitchell made a critical statement in the harsh sentence he passed on David Webster. He upheld the dignity and human rights of an incarcerated man who is now so shaken by what happened to him that he needs the constant companionship of a guide dog to ward off panic attacks. The overwhelming majority of rapes in jail and in prison are never reported or prosecuted. In some prisons, the guards actively collaborate in a culture of sexual enslavement. It is generally agreed that this type of crime is vastly underreported.

This issue lacks appeal to liberals because it involves depraved acts committed by individuals who most often have official "oppressed" status. Conservatives who focus on law and order sometimes lack sympathy for those whose crimes require incarceration. Both Blue and red states have serious prison rape problems . It is truly a matter of bipartisan shame.

Whether prison is viewed as rehabilitative or punitive, torture is not allowed under the US constitution. Even if one has no compassion for convicted felons, it should be kept in mind that these people will be released some day. How many men went into prison for nonviolent crimes and were turned into monsters through systematic abuse? How many innocent individuals endured such mistreatment?

Prison can be austere and punitive. It should not be a place of torture. Prisons should be designed and staffed in a way that makes rape unlikely and that protects those who do report it and press charges. Those who are habitual predators should be put in a prison environment where abuse of other human beings is impossible. Crimes committed by prisoners should be prosecuted as harshly in prison as they are in well to do neighborhoods. You can not teach a person respect by treating him or her like an animal.

This story ended with justice for David Webster's unnamed victim. There are thousands more victims in jails and prisons all across America enduring abuse even as they await trial. The State of Washington has put away David Webster, and justly so. But true justice demands that we put away our apathy and indifference. Those who knowingly turn a blind eye to injustice are not bystanders but accomplices..


The following is a documentary about a boy in Texas who was sentenced to prison for setting a trash can on fire. He committed suicide after being repeatedly raped in prison. I have also included links for information on this disturbing topic.

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