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8 Targets in Prison Masturbation Cases

Posted Jul 27, 2007 3:09 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Updated: A Florida inmate convicted this week of masturbating while alone in his jail cell is reportedly only one of eight targets—along with state taxpayers—of what a Miami Herald columnist describes as "a spectacular case of selective prosecution."

Given the likely prevalence of such commonplace behavior in state prisons (not to mention boarding schools, seminaries and military barracks), criminally charging any Broward County inmate with masturbation represents a major waste of prosecution dollars, writes Fred Grimm in the Miami Herald ("Justice went blind in this jailhouse case").

However, in addition to the 20-year-old inmate convicted this week, three other inmates charged in similar cases have accepted pleas and three still await trial (one case was dismissed). All were charged by the same female deputy, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

Grimm also questions whether the cure is worse than the disease. Prospective jurors were publicly questioned about their own masturbation habits, as noted in an earlier ABAJournal.com post, before Terry Lee Alexander—who was already facing a 10-year robbery sentence—was convicted of indecent exposure Tuesday and sentenced to 60 days, as reported by the Herald.

Plus, during Alexander's trial, prosecutor Cynthia Lauriston and the female deputy who complained, after observing him on a monitor as he was alone in his cell, "managed to describe Alexander's offense in startling detail, eight times, once with Lauriston approximating the action with arm motions," Grimm notes.

''It was very vulgar. Very indecent,'' the deputy testified, describing the new crime of which Alexander has now been convicted, the column concludes. "But she could have been characterizing the prosecution, the trial, the verdict and the obscene, indecent, vulgar, lascivious, downright stupid waste of time and money."

(Originally posted at 1:10 p.m.)

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