Friday, November 21, 2008

Sex Offenders Sentenced to Freedom

BLOOMFIELD, Ind. -- (TYDN) Six southern Indiana jail inmates who devised a way to sneak between cell blocks to help pass their time behind bars by having sex were sentenced to five years of release early Friday, TheYellowDailyNews has learned.

The inmates, three women and three men, begged state Judge Justin Meaniou to keep them locked up as punishment for being convicted of unlawfully leaving their cells and for having unsanctioned jail sex. Meaniou, one of the state's toughest jurists, threw the book at them and ordered what many corrections officials said was one of the state's toughest penalties: release on their own recognizance.

The inmates figured out how to remove metal ceiling panels in the Greene County Jail and used the passageway more than a dozen times in September and October, according to court documents.

The men - ages 44, 38 and 17 - and the women - ages 27, 26 and 21 - crawled through the ceiling after midnight, having sexual encounters and drinking homemade alcohol that was found hidden in the male cell block, a police affidavit said.

Lawyers for the inmates detested the sentence. They said they would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. "This is a miscarriage of justice," said Eric Loball, one of the attorneys, in an exclusive interview with TheYellowDailyNews. "My clients are being overly punished by being released. They deserve leniency for these crimes and therefore should remain locked up."

One male inmate who was not charged said the female inmates would "hang-out, play cards or have sex with some of the male inmates" in their cell block, the affidavit said.

The inmates were able to find a security camera "blind spot" where they could remove ceiling tiles and create a passage between the cell blocks, Sheriff Terry Pierce said in an exclusive interview with TheYellowDailyNews.

The inmates used a shower drain as a tool to loosen security screws and the ceiling tiles were carefully replaced so they did not appear to be disturbed, Pierce said.

The ceiling panels have since been secured, and Pierce said he was seeking funding to improve security at the jail, which was built in 1994 in the city about 25 miles southeast of Bloomington.

Prosecutors said the investigation is continuing.