Friday, December 15, 2006

People v. Johnson (Cal. Ct. App. - Dec. 14, 2006)

Here's one way to spend the rest of your life in prison. It's simultaneously kind of funny and yet deeply sad.

It starts out in a regular way. Eric Johnson is convicted in March 1993 of indecent exposure and sentenced to 16 months in prison. Fair enough. Keep it in your pants. If you don't, off to jail you go.

Then, when he's in prison, he just can't stop. Maybe the guy has watched too many prison porn movies -- who knows. For whatever reason, he and just can't keep his hands off himself. So, as a result of his subsequent repeated -- and relentless -- masturbation while incarcerated (and in front of other people), in October 1994, he's convicted of 17 additional counts of indecent exposure, and on that basis sentenced to an additional 12 years 4 months in prison. Yikes.

He's hardly finished, however. In October 2000, he's convicted of an additional eight counts based upon his public maturbation while incarcerated at Pelican Bay, and sentenced to another 5 years 4 months. And then in February 2004 he's convicted of another ten counts -- again for public masturbation in prison -- which adds another 4 years 8 months. Then in November 2005 he's busted yet again; apparently, they don't even bother to charge him with all the various times he's done it, and merely convict him of (and sentence him to) a single additional count even though the sole witness testifies to several additional times he's done it as well.

I mean, dude. KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF YOURSELF! Or, at a very minimum, turn off most of the lights, or cover yourself with a blanket, or do something other than spank in public. You were only sentenced to 16 months for what you did on the outside. But you're now looking at twenty-three plus years in prison solely based upon your inability to keep it to yourself while in your cell.

That's a freakishly long amount of time. Which made me think a couple of additional thoughts as well.

First, how screwed up is this guy? Answer(of course): A lot. Second, does anyone ever think or raise the fact that this guy may have -- and let me go out on a huge limb here -- deep psychological problems?! What about getting this guy some treatment? He's clearly not getting any better in prison, after all. You might even want to take a shot at pleading not guilty by reason of insanity, even though that's very hard to win. In my mind, there's no doubt whatsoever that the guy has something seriously, deeply wrong with him. It just doesn't make sense to do what he's doing. At all. Third, does anyone else have a sense that we're spending (indeed, largely wasting) a massive, massive amount of money on Mr. Can't Stop Touching This Thing? It costs over $35,000/year, after all, to keep a high security inmate like him in prison, so we're basically going to spend over a million dollars to -- and this seems ironic -- keep him in a precisely the place that consistently impels him to reoffend.

Couldn't we do something like pay $200,000 to give him a nice condo -- with really good blinds -- and spend $100/month to get him all the porn cable channels and high speed internet access? Then do something good with the extra $800,000? Yeah, yeah, I know: We can't actually do that, of a whole series of good reasons. Still, it just seems bizarre to me that we're spending a million dollars to keep a guy in prison just so he can, well, spank some more in prison, at which point we give him additional years in prison. Am I the only one who finds that a little strange?

Fourth, if you really are an "institution" man, this seems like a pretty good way to stay in prison, eh? No need to stick a knife to Heywood's throat like Brooks did in The Shawshank Redemption. That could actually hurt someone. Just play with yourself in public. That'll do the trick. Perhaps even be more fun.

Finally -- and I hesitate to say this -- but given his history and offenses, I had to laugh at the guy's last name. Apropos, no?

The only think funnier would have been if his first name was Richard.