Jerry Sandusky is by far the most notorious pedophile of modern times. Though we’re only now learning that he may have used the U.S. Postal Service to seduce his victims with gifts and travel, the capacity and scope of such emerging details isn’t surprising. Likewise, reactions to an ongoing investigation into whether Sandusky shared child porn via the Internet range from revulsion to indifference. Some call it flogging a dead horse, especially now that Sandusky has been convicted and incarcerated. Others, myself included, believe this will be the most important development of all: the opportunity to expose his (newly alleged) accomplices and their reach.
If the NCAA, the athletic association that punished Pennsylvania State University for what it called “an unprecedented failure of institutional integrity,” can affirm that the school held the esteem of its football program higher than “the values of human decency,” the government has no excuse not to follow every conceivable evidentiary offshoot and kill what it finds.
In the meantime, master pedophile Sandusky’s got his own comeuppance lined up like private planes on a runway. As I’ve written before, say what you will about prison inmates, at least they don’t protect pedophiles or their enablers. So right about now, Sandusky’s discovering that his life is in the hands of frontline custody staff at Pittsburgh’s Centre County Jail. And they — whether or not they liked Penn State’s football program or feel the sanctions against the school are too harsh — must openly and routinely display hatred towards him for their own personal safety.
How so? Imagine a football-loving prison guard who openly criticizes the NCAA’s sanctions. To folks on the outside, he’s simply griping about the recruiting hit the Nittany Lions have been forced to take as a result of the actions of a single sicko. But if the wrong inmate overheard that griping and could twist the guard’s words into a conveyance of sympathy for Sandusky-the-Kiddie-Rapist…well, you get the idea.
And not all scenarios are quite so subtle. Some have the potential to send the staff and inmate rumor mills into overdrive, like an opinion I recently read that asked after the point of “wasting time” investigating this further when we could simply “stop the witch hunt” and move on. On a prison Yard, where crimes against women and children are not tolerated, that would be read as a call to abandon the pedophile’s victims. And the result of that could be deadly.
This strict adherence to a code of behavior vis a vis molesters may seem strange to those on the outside, but I can assure you it’s alive and well among our nation’s incarcerated. If it is ever discovered, for instance, that a member of the general inmate population crossed paths with an otherwise isolated Sandusky but failed to attack him – or even kick at him despite leg restraints – that inmate’s fate will be at risk. Accounts of such failings are easily and commonly leaked back to the Yard through medical staff, civilian employees, guards, and even administrators: it takes only a grudge, a debt, or the wrong smart-ass remark.
Such is life behind bars: inmates (and by arguable extension staff) don’t hate pedophiles just because they’ve hurt children or because they themselves were victims at one point. They hate pedophiles in prison because of the behavioral cues, disruption, and potential threat their presence brings – segregated or not. There isn’t a penology expert or corrections official alive who wouldn’t at least privately agree.
So it’s pretty ironic that Sandusky’s very presence will now make him a proverbial football, albeit one nobody wants to carry. As for continuing to hunt down his cyber-perv connections and patterns of victim recruitment, that “witch hunt” is nothing like the one he’s gonna find himself facing once ol’ Jer gets transferred from a county court jail to “a real Yard.”