Jerry Davich: Victim’s family responds to convict’s plea for release
Jerry Davich email@example.com October 2, 2012 8:58PM
Clifton Boone Jr. | Provided Photo~Sun-Times Media ptmet
Updated: October 2, 2012 10:30PM
Clifton Boone Jr. is still a dangerous criminal who should be kept behind bars until he dies.
Clifton Boone Jr. has paid his debt to society and he should be released from prison today.
These are the opposing responses I received about my Sunday column, which prompted polarizing feedback from readers. The most passionate responses, however, came from Boone’s female victim, who was raped in 1975, and from her family.
“She was badly traumatized by what happened to her,” said a family member. “They brutalized her so bad she cannot conceive children. She’s still deathly afraid of this man.”
The family member did not want his name published, but he felt compelled to contact me.
“Granted, this happened a long time ago, and this man may have reformed, but you still have a victim here. She has demons to this day. Look at this through the victim’s eyes.”
In my column, I wrote that Boone has paid his debt to society and “justice” has been served. He should be released from prison and, at age 57, allowed a second chance at life.
“Mr. Davich, I was wondering if you would have the decency to contact and interview his victims,” wrote Rob S., one of many readers who contacted me. “Would you then write an article about the effects these tragic crimes had on these victims, the terror they must have felt, so that the public may have a balanced understanding of the situation?”
I should have noted in my previous column that I tried, unsuccessfully, to locate the three kidnapping victims from 1975. Instead, one of them found me after reading my Sunday column.
“I was violently raped,” she said angrily in her voice mail.
To recap the case, Boone was convicted of rape and three counts of kidnapping for the crime, which took place with two other assailants who never served any time. Boone was sentenced to 20 years for the rape, which he has long served, and three life sentences for three counts of kidnapping.
The state’s criminal law for kidnapping has since been changed, in 1977 to a lesser sentence, but the legal loophole keeps Boone behind bars for life unless he’s allowed a resentencing hearing or clemency.
“Sorry, you do the crime, you serve the time,” said reader Cindy J. “This man scarred these young girls for life.”
Sally B. countered by noting: “Murderers don’t even get that strict of a sentence.”
And on it went, back and forth about Boone’s case.
But, I contend, this issue is less about Boone, who turns 57 this month, and more about our personal feelings about crime and punishment. It’s not about him. It’s about you, me, us.
Boone, I say, is a living, breathing representation of how we feel about the U.S. justice system, as well as the age-old issue of crime and punishment — for good or bad.
To those critics of Boone’s possible release, should all rapists be locked up until they die, regardless of how long that takes? Is “prisoner rehabilitation” an oxymoron regardless of the inmate? And is “justice” only served with the eventual death of the criminal?
“Jerry, what if the rape victim was a loved one of yours?” asked one female reader, echoing other readers. “Would you still be in favor of the rapist’s release, even after 40 years?”
No, I replied. I would want the rapist locked up until he dies. And I would be in favor of castrating him when he first arrives to prison. I also wouldn’t hesitate to pull the switch that would execute him. I’m all for culling the human herd of such criminals.
But, using that vengeful paradigm of justice, no criminals of such crimes would ever be rehabilitated and released. Period. Is that what we want for the U.S. justice system? Does that reflect a civilized society or a barbarian society?
“I believe it’s up to the victims,” the victim’s family member said, regarding a criminal’s release date.
Regarding Boone specifically: “He should stay in prison,” the family member said.
Not everyone agrees, which again reflects our personal feelings about this hot-button topic, not necessarily Boone.
“Jerry, from what you’ve told us, this man should be free,” Jeff C. said. “Very eerily similar to the character in (the movie) ‘Shawshank Redemption.’ Red was no longer the man who had committed the crime which put him in Shawshank. Likewise, the man who committed this crime no longer exists — only a man who would benefit society much more outside the walls than inside them.”
“Jerry, I sent a copy of your column to the Indiana chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. The article didn’t mention whether or not they were contacted so I thought it couldn’t hurt,” said Sylvia Gibbs, of the eXodus Project — a prisoner re-entry program.
Other readers disagreed angrily with such sympathizing sentiments.
“Yeah, and I’ll bet that the woman (Boone) kidnapped and raped hasn’t ‘been the same’ since 1976 either,” Joe W. countered.
Amanda G. added, “I do not wish him harm and I’m glad he’s bettered himself. But he is exactly where he deserves to be and I for one hope he never leaves that place unless it’s in a box.”
A long-time friend of the victim wholeheartedly agrees: “It may have been 37 years, but it feels like yesterday to us,” she said. “Boone’s sentence serves the crime.”
I will explore this issue more in depth on this week’s “Casual Fridays” radio show, including a sampling of recorded voice mails I have received. I also will talk with Boone’s mother on the show, and I welcome calls from readers and listeners, including the victim’s family.
“Casual Fridays” airs this Friday at noon (and re-airs at 11 p.m.) on WLPR, 89.1-FM, streaming at www.thelakeshorefm.com. Call in to the show at 769-9577 or call my voice mail at 648-3107.