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13 Jan, 2022 18:48

Join the Army or go to jail, judge tells guard convicted of sexual assault

Former jailer who assaulted a shackled female inmate is given option of re-enlisting in military to avoid incarceration
Join the Army or go to jail, judge tells guard convicted of sexual assault

A former Kentucky jailer who had been found guilty of sexually assaulting a female prisoner has reportedly been ordered by a judge to either rejoin the military or serve time in the same jail where he worked.

“If you don’t enroll in 30 days, you can report to the Franklin County Regional Jail,” Franklin Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate said last week at his sentencing of Brandon Scott Price, a 28-year-old former guard. “You are under the gun, young man. You gotta do it.”

Price, who is a US Army veteran, was charged with felony sodomy, but he was convicted of the lesser charge of second-degree sexual assault, a misdemeanor. According to the State Journal newspaper, Wingate sentenced Price to 12 months in jail, but the term was probated for two years, meaning the convict can avoid incarceration if he abides by the judge’s requirements.

The assault occurred in January 2019, when Price was bringing a female inmate back to the jail after she received medical treatment at a hospital, the State Journal said. The woman said that on the way back from the hospital, Price pulled off the road and forced her to perform oral sex on him while she was shackled in the back of the van.

Price told authorities that the allegations were false, but he “made a stupid mistake,” allowing “a female inmate to touch me inappropriately.” He was arrested after the woman filed a civil lawsuit against the county, Price, and other jail employees.

“You’re getting a huge break,” the judge told Price at his sentencing. “You made a terrible mistake, which I know personally cost the county money.”

Price has reportedly begun the process of trying to re-enlist, but it’s not a certainty that the army or any other branch of the US military will take him.

It wasn’t uncommon in decades past to give defendants the option of enlisting to avoid incarceration, such as when the US was fighting wars in Korea and Vietnam. However, current army rules prohibit accepting recruits who are trying to join as a condition of a court sentence, unless they are granted a waiver.

People who are convicted of felony sex crimes aren’t eligible for such waivers. Price was charged with a felony but convicted of only a misdemeanor, suggesting that his re-enlistment could be approved at the army’s discretion. A New York man who tried to enlist in 2006 to avoid jail time on an assault conviction was rejected by the army.

Florida lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow first-time offenders facing up to four years in prison to avoid incarceration by joining the military, but it might take congressional action to make such sentences possible because, like the army, other branches have policies against enlistment as an alternative to jail.