ROCHESTER, N.Y.: An enlightened American Judge gets this month’s award for diplomacy. Faced with the problem of sentencing a gay convicted of first-degree assault he “reluctantly” placed him on probation because of fears that the man – 29-year-old Michael Dodd — would be “dehumanised if not killed” if sentenced to a term of imprisonment.
The case was dealt with recently by Judge David O. Boehm at Munroe County Court. Before passing sentence he asked prison officials about the potential danger to a homosexual inmate.
“They were very candid,” said Judge Boehm. There had been stabbings and fights over this situation yet all the prison officers could do was to give verbal instructions to the prisoners.
Judge Boehm said he just couldn’t see throwing Michael into that situation.
“It would be cruel and unusual punishment. He’d become an object of barter there, completely dehumanised, if he wasn’t killed.”
Judge Boehm placed Michael on probation on condition that he sought psychiatric help and stayed away from the victim of the assault.
He told Michael that if he violated any condition of parole, it “will be clear indication that you’re not concerned, as I am, with what might happen if you’re sentenced to prison.” Judge Boehm added: “I resent the fact that we have no alternatives. This is a heck of a thing and the public ought to know about it. I resent the fact that another person may come up who’s a homosexual and he may have a more serious crime and I’m stuck.”
Right on Judge Boehm and here’s hoping your views come to the notice of your English colleagues.