Electing judges is a terrible system, as this sexual assault sentence reminds us yet again



It’s bad enough on the surface: Let’s send a sexual predator to a setting that has a major sexual assault problem. It gets worse.

Price’s conviction stems from an assault on an inmate at that same Franklin County Regional Jail, where Price worked as a guard. When a female inmate needed medical treatment for high blood pressure, he “transported (the inmate) alone, in violation of Jail policy and industry standards and practices,” to the emergency room. While the two were at the hospital, Price insinuated that he might be able to affect parole board decisions and made “sexually-charged comments” to her. Then, while she was shackled in the back of the van back to the jail, Price pulled the van over, “turned around and told (the inmate) if she performed oral sex on him, he would talk to the KDOC employee he knew about getting her released from jail earlier,” and assaulted her. While she was shackled and under his control and custody as a jail guard.

This is who Judge Thomas Wingate wants to send to a setting in which one in 16 women are sexually assaulted even without the addition of convicted sexual predators.

The good news is this: “Without a waiver, Army Regulation 610-210—which covers Army recruiting guidelines—states that an applicant is not eligible for enlistment if they ‘As a condition for any civil conviction or adverse disposition or any other reason through a civil or criminal court, is ordered or subjected to a sentence that implies or imposes enlistment into the Armed Forces of the United States,’” Task and Purpose reports. “While these determinations continue to occur, they carry no legal weight and only serve to further propagate another military myth. Still, that hasn’t stopped judges and lawmakers from proposing military service as an alternative to jail time. Last December, a Florida state senator proposed a law that would allow people convicted of nonviolent misdemeanor offenses to enlist rather than go to jail.”

But the fact that a judge would think this was an appropriate recommendation is yet another indictment of the so-called criminal justice system—and particularly the role of elected judges—in this country. Wingate faced no opposition in his last election.


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