Montgomery Co. inmate strangled at prison

CARLISLE, Ind. — A man convicted of sexual misconduct with a minor died after being attacked in his cell at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility.

Robert Crane, 27, who appeared to have been strangled, died while being treated at a hospital about 1:30 p.m. today, two hours after the attack, prison spokesman Rich Larsen said.

Indiana State Police and prison investigators named Crane’s cellmate, Michael Gibson, 33, as a suspect in the attack, Larsen said.

Gibson is serving a 119-year sentence for two attempted murders, battery, burglary and possessing a weapon, with an earliest possible release date of 2063, Larsen said. His crimes occurred in Morgan and Madison Counties.

The two prisoners were being held in protective custody, Larsen said.

After the attack, guards immediately tried to resuscitate Crane, Larsen said. He was rushed to Sullivan County Community Hospital.

Crane, who also had been convicted of attempted escape, was serving a 14-year term.

The Wabash Valley Correctional Facility houses more than 2,100 prisons in maximum and minimum security. It’s about 35 miles south of Terre Haute.

[Ed: The common wisdom regarding sex offenders killed or tortured by other prisoners goes something like this: "Even criminals have nothing but contempt for sex offenders, having been, in all likelihood, the victims of childhood sexual abuse themselves. It is understandable then that they should vent their rage, born of a childhood full of sexual abuse, upon those molesters close at hand within jail or prison". This argument suffers from several dubious claims, the first of which is that sexual contact in childhood with an adult is a leading cause of later criminality. There is little factual basis for this assertion and, to the extent that it exists, is vastly overstated in the facile pop psychology that has become the received wisdom of our times, stated endlessly as gospel on Oprah and infiltrating our very public policy.

The other assumption is that, despite being criminals themselves, there dwells in these jail house enforcers of
morality an essential thread of decency that demands they act in the name of justice to murder molesters in a way in which no one else can, securing for themselves a measure of redemption that will allow them to climb several rungs up the ladder of social respectability. How unfortunate it is that the public is more than willing to accord them this redemptive respect, without questioning the dark and disturbing motivations which truly drive their vicious acts. It seems to occur to few that, by murdering someone lower on the social totem pole than themselves, these criminals are able to give full expression to their sadism and depravity while gaining both self-respect and the tacit approval of society. History provides countless examples of acts of cruelty disguised as acts of righteousness. By ignoring these lessons we become, ourselves, cruel.

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