||Unequal Justice: Wayne Dumond, Bill Clinton and the
Politics of Rape in Arkansas
||Prometheus Books © 1993
59 John Glenn Drive
Buffalo, NY 14228-2197
This 263-page book by a journalist for the
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.
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 exposés 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.