If “Law and Order” has taught us anything, it's that being a cop in the clink makes you deeply unpopular with other inmates. Being a child molester can be just as bad, so imagine the difficulties faced by a former officer incarcerated for a sex crime against a child.
Those charged with crimes are of course innocent until proven guilty, but that potentially plummeting social stock may weigh heavily on the minds of state police Capt. Edward L. Hope Jr. and Virginia Commonwealth University Police Chief Willie B. Fuller, both of whom were charged with sex crimes in late January.
Hope was arrested at Virginia State Police headquarters Jan. 26 and charged with forcibly sodomizing a girl younger than 13. Fuller was picked up in a police sting Jan. 30 after authorities say the 14-year-old girl he thought he was chatting with online turned out to be a detective with Chesterfield Police Department.
Both men are out on bail and awaiting trial, but if the cases don't go their way, their life as convicts will be more complex.
Prison populations organize themselves into hierarchies, says Ilona Gravers, a psychologist who works to rehabilitate sex offenders around Winchester.
“The No. 1, top of the food chain, is someone who's committed murder,” she says. “They can intimidate anyone around them. The most unpopular ones are the child molesters.”
Larry Traylor, a spokesman for the Virginia Department of Corrections, says that a police officer, like any inmate who may have a lot of enemies in jail, would be handled carefully.
Such an inmate may end up in protective custody or a special unit “with other inmates of the same status. [They may] have a cell to themselves and not mingle with other inmates in the facility,” Traylor says. “We may also look at sending him out of state.”
Once out of jail and in rehabilitation, Graver says coordinating treatment can get tricky too.
“We try not to put a police officer in group therapy,” she says. “If the other guys are offenders, they tend not to like police very much.”