IPT Book Reviews

Title: Unequal Justice: Wayne Dumond, Bill Clinton and the Politics of Rape in Arkansas  Positive Review
Author: Guy Reel
Publisher: Prometheus Books 1993

Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive
Buffalo, NY 14228-2197
$21.00
 

Description:

This 263-page book by a journalist for the Commercial Appeal tells the story of an accused rapist who was castrated in his home while on bond.  The local sheriff placed the severed sex organs in a jar on his desk and regularly displayed them to friends.

The defendant, who was accused of raping a minor, ultimately received a life sentence plus 20 years.  However, after the sentence was imposed, a DNA test indicated that he could not have committed the rape for which he was charged and convicted.  Despite this, he still remains in prison, although the current governor of Arkansas has reduced his sentence to 39 and one half years.
 

Discussion:

Those who read White Lies know what justice is for alleged sex offenders in the south. You are guilty until you prove your innocence.  When this case was covered on a 20/20 television show, Bill Clinton responded, "Just because I'm in national politics doesn't mean I'm going to let exposs govern what I think is right or wrong."  Clinton's comment summarizes the flavor of this case.

The media attention resulted in the county sheriff receiving a sentence of 20 years for his behavior, including the display of the man's sex organs, which demonstrates the usefulness of the media in exposing injustices.  However, this case is also a dismaying illustration of how politics can affect conviction and sentencing, particularly when a person is accused of a crime such as child molestation.  This book provides a frightening account of sadism, politics, and the failure of constitutional protections that most of us take for granted.  The lesson to be learned is that vigilante justice eventually backfires and that not every criticism of a malfunctioning system is a form of backlash.

Reviewed by LeRoy G. Schultz, Professor Emeritus of Social Work, West Virginia University, Morganstown, West Virginia.

Order this book: Hardcover

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