A former prison guard has avoided jail time after he was accused of sexually abused the inmates under his watch at Kentucky Correctional Institution for Women in Peewee Valley.
In 2011, an investigation by Kentucky State Police reportedly found that Officer Sergeant James B. Johnson, 54, had been supplying inmates with drugs and sexual abusing them for an extended period of time. Johnson was charged in July that year with 50 counts of official misconduct, 25 counts of second-degree sexual abuse, one count of promoting contraband and one count of trafficking in a controlled substance.
Although Johnson maintained his innocence throughout the process, he made a plea deal with the court on Monday. Johnson was able to avoid imprisonment by agreeing to seven years of probation, two years for the sexual abuse and five years for drug trafficking, so long as he attends a diversion program.
“He's really eager to put this behind him," Mary Rives, Johnson’s attorney told reporters at WLKY. “[We] thought it was a good resolution for all parties involved.”
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The lack of prison time comes as a shock to many concerned about the welfare of prisoners, especially in light of the death of Latandra Ellington, an inmate at the Lowell Correctional Institution in Florida. Ellington was allegedly beaten to death by a prison guard earlier this month.
A survey by the U.S. Department of Justice found that from 2008 to 2009, 2.8% of state and federal prisoners and 2.0% of jail prisoners reported at least one incident of sexual victimization by a corrections employee within the last year. While those percentages may seem negligible, it means there were about 57,000 incidents of sexual victimization by staff members in one year. About 36,800 of those encounters were described as “unwilling.”