Women Marrying Inmates
By: Christina Johns

Being a woman, I complain a lot about men, but I have to admit: women are crazy too. They're just crazy in a different way.

I mean, just think about those women who marry men in prison. And they don't just marry burglars or embezzlers, they marry killers sometimes they marry serial killers. One of the Menendez brothers (I can never keep their names straight) just got married. And some woman married the Night Stalker, Richard Ramirez.

Richard Ramirez was found guilty of 13 murders and 30 felonies including sodomy and rape. In 1985, he pumped three bullets into the head of the sleeping man and then bound the man's girlfriend with neckties. He beat her, raped her and then dragged her around the house forcing to say she loved Satan. Now, I ask you, this is a man you'd marry?

Ted Bundy, a serial rapist and murderer went to the gas chamber a married man and Timothy McVeigh receives marriage proposals in the mail.

You go figure it. I can't.

Now I have talked to some women who stayed married to men in prison, and can at least somewhat understand the advantages of that. I once worked on a research project in Scotland where I travelled around the country interviewing inmates and sometimes their wives.

One woman I interviewed who was married to a professional thief told me that it didn't bother her at all to be married to a man in prison. She knew exactly where he was at night, he wasn't running around on her (at least not with another woman), she didn't have to cook for him or clean up after him or put up with him except once every month when she visited. She said the problem was when he was out. She told me that once he got out of prison after five years; came home and went into a rage because she had moved his stereo records. I can see how having that geizer in prison would be a relief.

But no woman married to a man in prison ever topped for me the story of Rodney Turton's wife.

I call her Rodney Turton's wife because I never met the woman. I met her husband. I interviewed him in prison. Rodney Turton had, like most sexual predators, worked his way through three of his wife's five daughters before he got caught and put in prison. He also, like most sexual predators I interviewed, wanted to tell me what he had done.

There was only one word for Rodney Turton. He was repulsive. I was very seldom repulsed by the men I talked to in prison no matter what they had done. But Rodney Turton was an exception.

After I had listened to Rodney Turton for ten minutes, I was consumed with the desire to get out of that prison, get on the train, get back to Edinburgh and take a bath. I later told my colleague Adrian about him. We wondered why the Turton's were still married. She still had two daughters under 15 and Scottish law prohibited sexual predators from returning to homes in which there were underage children.

A few weeks later Adrain interviewed Rodney Turton's wife.

I heard Adrain the minute he came bursting in the door on the first floor, and I heard him run all the way to the third. As soon as he got through the door to our office he was almost shouting between gasps for breath: "You danae kin. You danae kin." He said.

Roughly translated this Scottish vernacular means: You'll never believe it.

"Rodney Turton's wife is putting her children up for adoption so Rodney can come home."

We both stared at each other. "Oh, my God." I said.

"What is it about this guy?" He asked.

I shook my head. You know, it would have been revolting under any circumstance, but maybe it would have made more sense it if Rodney Turton had looked like Robert Redford or Denzel Washington, but Rodney Turton was awrful. He had entirely too much hair in places where hair had no business, filthy glasses and ears and hands and nose, and that kind of white pasty skin with enlarged pores that makes me suspect a person's spent his life eating Twinkies and mainlining heroin. And, he had probably ruined the lives of three little girls.

Aren't human beings just the strangest things in the universe? C. J. Johns


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