Los Angeles Sheriff's Custody Assistant Sentenced to 3 Years for Sex Act with Female Inmate
August 16, 2002
LOS ANGELES - The nonprofit human rights group Stop Prisoner Rape said a
strong message was sent today by the sentencing of a Los Angeles County
Sheriff's custody assistant convicted of performing sex acts with a Twin
Meko Goodley, who took part in sex acts with a female inmate at the Twin
Towers Correctional Facility on Feb. 23, 1999, was convicted of the felony
charge of oral copulation with an inmate, the first conviction of its kind
in Los Angeles County. Judge Michael M. Johnson sentenced Goodley today to
the maximum applicable sentence, three years in prison.
"This sentencing sends a strong message the abuse of inmates is a crime,
despite society's callousness toward rape in prison. Sexual abuse is not
acceptable, ever," said Lara Stemple, executive director of Stop Prisoner
Significantly, the victim was in the mental heath ward when the incident
took place. First-time offenders, young women, and mentally disabled women
are particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse while incarcerated, said
In most states, sex between a corrections officer and an inmate is
considered illegal. These laws make it clear that, due to the overwhelming
power imbalance, an inmate can never truly consent to sex with a member of
the corrections staff.
Johnson, in announcing the sentence, underscored the importance of the
power Godley wielded over the inmate.
"This was not a jailhouse romance," the judge said. "There was no consent
Stemple said laws prohibiting such relationships are frequently ignored.
"Corrections officials often claim that the victim consented in an effort
to reduce or dismiss charges against them. A victim's status as an inmate
causes some to disbelieve allegations of abuse, making prosecution a
challenge," she said.
Rates for women, who are most likely to be abused by male staff members,
vary greatly among institutions. In one facility, 27 percent of women
reported a pressured or forced sex incident, while another had virtually
no reported sexual abuse.
"The vast difference in rates among institutions says to us that prisoner
rape is preventable. Proper management and training of staff can go a long
way toward preventing this kind of human rights abuse," explained Stemple.