Random thoughts on a variety of subjects
By Sam Redman
I recently checked in on beyond90seconds.com (you can click the link to that blog in the sidepanel) and saw where Mark Horner, the very capable blog author, had posted an update about Wayne Bent going on a new fast from prison. If you recall, Bent is the guy who claimed to be the second coming of Christ, with his own interpretation of God’s plan, which he thought included laying naked and having sex with about eight or so women of his tiny group, isolated on his vast estate in northern New Mexico. This estate, by the way, is funded from Wayne’s huge personal trust fund, money which Bent accumulated from contributions in previous years, when he had a successful international ministry in operation. For Wayne’s new sexual “work,” the instructions for which he claimed had been given to him by none other than God himself, he had also enlisted several underaged girls to be included with the other gals for his sexual rituals. He only stopped short of having actual relations with the children when several exmembers started complaining to the police after Wayne described his intentions on his website. Unfortunately for Wayne, he didn’t curtail his activities soon enough, having done the first step in his seduction process, which involved having the girls lay naked with him in his bed (his legal aged virgins and a few of the attractive married women in his group, also did that preliminary “laying naked,” step, but those eventually went “all the way”). Well, all that play with the young girls got him accused and eventually convicted of sexual misconduct and he is serving ten years in a New Mexico prison.
So, now Wayne’s been there for nine months and things seemed to be going swimmingly. He was allowed multiple visitors several times a week. He was able to stay in a special prison area (probably for senior citizens, he’s 68) and permitted virtually unlimited lengthy phone calls home. He was also able to, with the help of his followers, post his rantings and railings from prison on the internet without restrictions.
But, then Wayne decided to push it and a few days ago in one of his from-prison-communications he announced that he was going on a fast because he didn’t like the prison food (although they had been going to the trouble of preparing him a special vegetarian diet, which he said he had to eat as part of his religious beliefs). Wayne wrote on his website that he was going to deprive himself of solid food (drinking only juices), then go on only water and finally nothing until he died, unless he could get his food, in effect, “catered” in by his followers. Of course, the likelihood of that succeeding would have been rather slim. I’m sure most prisoners don’t like the food and would love to have their meals catered in from restaurants (or prepared by some of their “crew” on the outside).
And then today, peeking in on the Wayne Bent website, it looks like the prison officials won’t be messed with. He was put in the prison hospital, in solitary confinement and told that he would be force fed unless he eats what they give him. That makes sense. A while back when he was doing his first prison fast (also “to death”) about a week after he was “admitted” (he stopped in a few days), I thought that they would eventually just force feed him. But, when I first read about this crazy fast, demanding to have his own gourmet cuisine delivered, I wondered if they might just opt to give him trays of food and let him deprive himself until he died. But, prisons don’t work like that… they don’t allow people to get out of their sentences by committing suicide. Instead, they put anyone who threatens to end it all on “suicide watch” (removing anything, like cord or sharp objects or other potentially self-destructive items which could be used in killing themselves). They certainly don’t let anyone starve to death.
So, it seems that he is going to be simply force fed for a while with no visitors. And while it might seem harsh and maybe even unusual punishment, really he is being treated no differently than they do any of the other “hard cases.” They can keep someone in the hole (literally for some) totally incommunicado for as long as the rebelling inmate doesn’t follow prison regulations (and that means they must submit completely to the control of the guards). And my guess is that after a week of being fed via a tube to his stomach (he’ll gain quite a bit of weight and get very healthy, probably with some liquefied meat included), he will then have a “vision” (really one of those what-was-I thinking epiphanies) that “God is telling him” he needs to go back to the regular prison life.
Lots of prisoners rebel and some fight and scream and hit guards and refuse food. Prisons don’t let them win. They force them into submission and once a prisoner rebels (as Wayne did), the guards and other prison officials have every right to put them under very harsh circumstances. Cutting off his contact with the outside world and being force fed through a tube will most likely bring him around to understanding his fate (he’s got to serve his time). Wayne will think (and later say) that he was being tortured, but the methods they use for subduing recalcitrant prisoners is very procedurally exact and they follow predetermined steps of what might be called “humane torture.” Their methods have been subjected to years of law suits and legal maneuverings, but the courts have agreed that prisons can use “reasonable” means to subdue a rebellious prisoner. Submission is their goal and they achieve it. They don’t lose very many (if any), but it won’t be pleasant. No contact with others for a while sobers up rebels. The other out of control inmates are also given a diet of only a special bad tasting all inclusive prison loaf, which Wayne might also be subjected to for a while even after he agrees to eat.
He actually had a rather remarkable situation. Multiple visits from friends several times a week. Virtually unlimited phone calls. No restrictions about his audio and written communication appearing on the web (that is a privilege most prisoners other places simply do not receive). Now he is totally cut off from even any communication with anyone (not even other prisoners and probably not even guards until he says he is ready to “play nice”). He is like a preschooler having a tantrum in kindergarten, being sent to detention.
I look for the vision really soon with that new message from heaven telling him to go back to the way it was. But this time his communication privileges might be limited. Prisons usually only restore rights and pleasures incrementally as inmates show that they are going to behave and be totally cooperative.