revealnewsCh. 6: The sentence comes down: #badpleadeals by @antoinegoldet
The sentence, seven years in prison, was handed down by Superior Court Judge Eugene Codey on Oct. 17, 1996. Two days later, Rodney Roberts was told he was getting the “jail drop” – marched onto a bus at the county jail and taken to the maximum-security East Jersey State Prison, 16 miles south.
His life changed overnight. The mother of his son broke up with him. Then, Roberts found something disturbing in his paperwork: He had been classified a sex offender by the prison administration.
He had agreed to plead guilty to a kidnapping he did not commit, but not to the rape of a teenager, to avoid exactly that.
He asked prisoners for advice. Word spread rapidly, and inmates started to humiliate him – calling him names and beating him up, as they did with others identified as child molesters. Roberts fought back.
As a result, he estimates he spent more than 700 days in solitary confinement.
Roberts still can feel the pressure of the iron shackles on his wrists as he was escorted in a chain gang to the segregation building. He can hear the shouts of other prisoners welcoming their new invisible companions, followed by the lonely, cold days and nights.
His first parole hearing came in May 2000. He was brought into a room where two people sat on one side of a long table, while a third observed him via video conference.
When the parole board member on the small screen alluded to the sexual nature of his crime, Roberts answered that the judge had dismissed the sexual assault charge.
. “I didn’t plead guilty to that,” Roberts said.
. “This is what we have to go by at this point,” said another panelist, pushing a copy of the police report of the 1996 rape across the table toward Roberts.
Roberts would not admit to the crime or express remorse, things parole boards listen for as they assess whether prison time has changed a man. His application for parole was denied.
He would wait 28 months before becoming eligible for parole again.
- charliehuetteKeep this up. So good.
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