Isiah Gay appeared in a New Mexico court this week after being arrested for burglary, his first alleged criminal offense. Judge Christina Argyres sentenced him to five years probation, but not before dangling a 15-year prison sentence in front of him during which he would “probably be raped every day,” she said.
THE COURT: Do you know what would happen—and I’m going to use your words, Mr. Gay—if you go to prison, to a “young and dumb” person in prison? Do you have any idea what would happen to you?
THE DEFENDANT: I would probably get beat up, I guess. I probably—
THE COURT: You would probably be raped every day, number one. You probably would be beat up every day. And I hate to sound like that, you know, rude, but that’s exactly what would happen to you. You’re a young guy, and the trauma that would cause you, you’ll never get that out of your head.
Judge Argyres then seemed to suggest that a prison rape would be a form of poetic justice for Gay, whose is charged with burglarizing several homes when he was 18 years old.
To me, the issue with residential burglary, again, it’s almost like a rape, because it is such an invasion and such an intrusion of somebody’s life and their property.
You know, State, with regards to, do we send him to prison? I hate to use the word “bitch,” but that’s exactly what he’s going to be, and I don’t want to destroy Mr. Gay’s life. He’s already a convicted felon. So I am willing to put him on probation.
And reminded him that he would go to prison—with everything that it entails—if he slips up on his probation.
This time is still hanging over your head. I have up to 15 years to incarcerate you. The only way you are going to prison, Mr. Gay, is if you pick up a new charge or do something stupid like this again.
On one hand, Judge Argyres concern for Gay may have been genuine—KOB notes that she is facing local pressure to be “tougher on crime,” meaning she probably has a reputation for sympathetic sentences, and after all, she didn’t send him to jail. But prison rape is a real and pervasive problem, and one the authorities often ignore. We shouldn’t be using it as a horror story to keep scared kids from offending again; we should be figuring out how to stop it from happening.