Beyond Scared Straight -Juvenile Justice Reform: How To Survive in Prison as an Innocent Man Convicted of a Sex Crime

Via Scoop.itJuvenile Justice

James D. Anderson*
Psychology Editor’s Note: This article includes some strong views that may be surprising and challenging. We have chosen to publish it because we believe prisoners have a right to seek interaction with those outside the prison walls. We also believe there are many innocent men and women in prison who are wrongly convicted of sex offenses. They too, have a right to stand up for their innocence. One of the more poignant episodes in our lives was in June, 1985, when Lois Bentz, accused with her husband, Robert, of sexually abusing children in Jordan, Minnesota, was told by her attorney about a very attractive plea bargain. With tears running down her face, Lois said to us, “I did not do it and I will not say I did something I didn’t do.” The Bentzes rejected the plea bargain and went to trial. The Bentzes were acquitted and the Jordan case is often regarded as the beginning of the “backlash” that has led to increased awareness of false accusations and the reversals of several highly publicized convictions in recent years.
Still there are many many lesser known cases where Large numbers of innocent people remain behind bars. We receive letters every week from men and women in prison who assert their innocence. For years we have agonized about what we can do in response. The most we have been able to do is to try to stay in contact and provide information to assist those working on appeals. Based upon our experience with Ms. Bentz, we have also tried to say what Mr. Anderson repeats several times in this article — maintain your own personal integrity. Mr. Anderson tells us how he has done this for himself. It may not be a way that works for everyone, but this is what he tells us works for him. We believe Mr. Anderson is very likely to walk out of prison when his time is served and be standing up straight and tall.

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