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# Sex_Crime : North Texas federal prison guards who had sex with inmates cut deals to avoid sex offender registration

# Sex_Crime : 

Marrufo, a former cook supervisor at the Fort Worth federal medical prison, touched an inmate's genitals with her hand in February 2015, according to court records.


                                                             

Marrufo signed a document as part of her plea agreement saying she understood she might be required to register as a sex offender under the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act. A list of probation terms in her file includes the requirement that she register. But it was crossed out.

Marrufo said she was told she didn't have to register as a sex offender. She said the consequences of her actions have already been bad enough. She lost her career and her relationship and was homeless for a time, she said.

"People automatically assume you're a sexual predator," said Marrufo, who worked in corrections since 1997.

Rudy Ramon, 54, of Grand Prairie, also pleaded guilty to sexual abuse of a ward.

He was sentenced in April to four years of probation. His plea documents list several conditions of his probation. Registering as a sex offender is not one of them. Ramon, a former officer at a different Fort Worth federal prison, performed oral sex on an inmate in November 2014, court records show.


Ramon was ordered to participate in sex offender treatment services, his court records show. He is not currently listed in the Texas sex offender registry. When reached by phone, Ramon hung up. His attorney could not be reached for comment.
Too lenient?

Lerner-Kinglake, of the human rights group, said too many prison staff members who sexually assault prisoners in their custody are "allowed to walk away quietly" and may even keep their jobs.

"An even greater number of abusive staff get away with it because their victims are too scared to report, or because they figure the chances of getting any justice are slim," Lerner-Kinglake said. "If we are to end sexual abuse in detention ... then we must no longer allow staff to commit abuse with impunity."

Brenda V. Smith, an American University law professor, sat on the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission, a bipartisan panel created by Congress as part of the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003. 


                                                                           
Smith said she's not surprised that the government would agree to deals that don't include sex offender registration, given that corrections officers are rarely prosecuted. Sometimes they are allowed to retire with their pensions without any adverse findings on their employment record, she said.

That feeds the perception, she said, that government employees are treated differently than everyone else.

A 2014 Justice Department study of sex abuse in the U.S. prison system found that 46 percent of staffers who committed sexual misconduct from 2009 to 2011 were referred for prosecution and that just 27 percent of them were arrested. Of those, 1 percent were convicted, the report said.

Other federal prison guards in Texas convicted of having sex with inmates in recent years received probation or short prison sentences. But they did have to register as sex offenders, according to a review of the cases by The News.

Smith said there is an argument that some people should not have to register as sex offenders, such as teenagers who make poor decisions in relationships.

"But if you are going to require people to register, you should do it in an evenhanded fashion," Smith said.

She also said people sometimes assume there's no harm if the sex is consensual between a prison guard and an inmate.

"What about harm to the institution?" she asked. "If they are engaging in this behavior, they're not doing their job and putting everyone at risk."
'Publicly shamed'

Scott Smith, an Austin defense attorney who specializes in sex offenses and is an expert on registration, said "charge bargaining" is an option because prosecutors have "enormous power" in deciding which charges to file.

Often, prosecutors and defense attorneys negotiate a different charge that would not require registration, he said.

Smith said there is even confusion among judges and lawyers about the sex offender registration law and its requirements.

"People are told things that turn out not to be true," he said.

Sometimes deals are made where mistakes could go unnoticed for a long time, he said. As for a case in which sex offender registration is crossed out on a defendant's list of probation requirements, Smith said, "I would consider that suspect."

Smith also said he would expect that sex offender registration would begin immediately after the sentence is issued, provided the person is not in custody and not sentenced to prison.

Smith said registered sex offenders are subjected to numerous hardships. They are "publicly shamed," their home address is made public, and it can hurt their ability to find a job, a home and maintain a relationship, he said.

"The consequences are enormous," Smith said.
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