The state of Pennsylvania has settled a civil suit for $35,000 brought by inmate, Lisa Michelle Lambert, who was sentenced to life in prison after stalking and murdering a 16-year-old girl she thought was romantically involved with her boyfriend. Only after that 1991 murder did the state pass anti-stalking laws.
The state Department of Corrections declined comment on the case, but spokeswoman Susan McNaughton said the department does not tolerate fraternization between inmates and staff.
Lambert's lawyer, Angus Love of the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project, called the settlement amount "low," but that his client was concerned that jurors might be told about her conviction, which "could have poisoned the minds for (her) plea for compassion for the sexual assaults she suffered."
For those who think that rape can be justified because the victim did something worse than rape, remember that justifying crime is what led to a girl's murder.
There can be no acceptable rape victims. Unlike in murder charges, there is no innocent of rape by means of self-defense.
If prisons ignore or minimize crime committed against inmates, they risk teaching criminals that even those on the side of justice are supportive of crime. That could lead to an expanding "get them before they get you" attitude which makes none of us safer.
The tougher route is for all prison employees to be trained to model respectful behavior even when they are dealing with the worst of the worst or when what they are tempted not to respect are laws or rules of conduct.
Too often respectful treatment of inmates is confused with being soft on crime when true respect has nothing to do with weakness of any sort.