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Published on Thursday, September 14, 2000
Continuing Saga of Sex, Murder & Racism: Susan Smith Is Still Scheming In Prison
by Tom Turnipseed
COLUMBIA, SC - Susan Smith, who was sentenced to life in prison for murdering her two toddler sons, has admitted having sex with a prison guard at the South Carolina Department of Corrections. In 1994, Smith led the country on a wild goose chase for nine days by blaming a fictitious black man for carjacking her Mazda with her sons still in the car. The practice of unjustly blaming blacks and imprisoning them with alarming racial disparity, is not fictitious. It is a real national tragedy being revealed in studies by human rights groups and government agencies.

There is irony in Smith being satisfied by a prison guard. Prosecutors in her highly publicized trial that devastated a small South Carolina town and horrified a nation argued that she had viewed her sons as baggage in her effort to capture her upscale extramarital lover. The newest erotic episode in the life of Susan Smith was discovered after an investigation into the Smith's medical records to find if a tabloid story alleging that Smith had been beaten was true. Her medical records did not reveal a beating but that she had been treated for a sexually transmitted disease "other than HIV" and under questioning she admitted having sex with Houston Cagle, a prison guard.

Cagle, a 13-year jailer at the Women's Correctional Institution in Columbia, appeared before a judge at a bail bond hearing with his wife, Tammy. A former prison inmate, Tammy sobbingly told the judge,"I feel like I've been murdered too, just like those two little boys, she took my life from me". It has not been determined if Tammy and Houston knew each other "biblically" while she was in the big house, but documents submitted to the S.C. Senates's Corrections Committee that is holding hearings into the matter revealed that 10 instances of sexual misconduct have occurred in South Carolina prisons since January 1999.

It's interesting that Cagle might not have been the first South Carolinian to have sex with a convicted female killer. According to "Ol' Strom", a biography of Senator Strom Thurmond by Jack Bass, Randall Johnson, the driver of a state vehicle transporting a convicted female killer named Sue Logue to the prison death house in 1943, said then U.S. Army Major Thurmond got into the back seat with his friend Logue and they were "a huggin' and a kissin' the whole way". Joe Frank Logue said his Aunt Sue "was the only person ever seduced on the way to the electric chair".

Headline grabbing hearings about sex with Susan Smith behind bars are scintillating but scheming Susan's racist attempt to blame a black man in a knit cap for her horrible deed is a continuing tradition that goes way back to demonizing blacks to justify enslaving them. Legislative hearings about sexual wrongdoing in prisons don't deal with the greatest wrongdoing in our criminal justice system. What will we do about the shocking racial injustices that appear in the media, but seem to go away before white folk's consciences become too troubled?

Nationally, black youth are 6 times more likely to be locked up than white youth charged with similar crimes and having similar criminal records. Black youth are far more likely to be arrested, detained and sentenced than white youth according to state and federal juvenile justice officials. In South Carolina, blacks make up 36% of the juvenile population but comprised 54% of juveniles referred to prosecutors and 62% of youths committed to facilities or programs in 1999. From 1985 to 1994, blacks accounted for 80% of the cases of juveniles that prosecutors requested be tried as adults.

Human Rights Watch reports that blacks comprise only 13% of the U. S. population but are 62% of the drug offenders in our state prisons, although studies show that whites use 5 times more illegal drugs than blacks. In South Carolina, with a black population of 30%, 86% of the drug offenders in prison are blacks.

For the past 5 years, 75% of the cases in which federal prosecutors sought the death penalty the defendant was a minority and in more than half were black. For the past 10 years only 40% of murder victims were white in the Carolinas but with present death row inmates almost 70% of their murder victims were white.

Odds are if Susan Smith had been successful in" blaming the black", he wouldn't be alive to have sex in prison.

Tom Turnipseed, former President of the SC Trial Lawyers Association, is a plaintiff's and civil rights attorney in Columbia, SC. He was co-counsel for the Macedonia Baptist Church, an African American congregation in Clarendon County, SC which won a $37,000,000.00 (Thirty Seven Million Dollar) verdict in 1998 against the Ku Klux Klan for burning their church. A former SC State Senator, he is active in state politics and has been the democratic nominee for state Attorney General and Congress. Tom is President of the Center for Democratic Renewal (formerly the Anti-Klan Network) a nationally recognized civil rights organization based in Atlanta. In 1998, he received the Holmes-Weatherly Award, the Unitarian-Universalist Association's highest honor for the pursuit of social justice. For many years, Tom has spoken and written on political and human rights. He has hosted radio and television shows in Columbia, SC and recently appeared on PBS' American Experience in "George Wallace: Settin' the Woods on Fire", April 23rd and 24th, 2000, MSNBC's "Equal Time" with Oliver North and Paul Begala, February 18th, 2000, C-SPAN's "Washington Journal" with Brian Lamb, January 14th, 2000 and Fox Family Network's series "Courage", September 11, 2000. His work has been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlanta Constitution, The Charlotte Observer and other papers.


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