Date: Sat, 12 Sep 1998 10:25:49 -0300
Subject: Alabama Criminal Justice System Tragedy
Something has happened where I live, and I need your help. A boy has been murdered here, Robert Sevigny (born in Tennessee) was his name. He was murdered inside the Madison County Jail, Huntsville, Alabama. He did not need to die.
I've been sending an email out to all the networks, and news agencies. I will reproduce it below. I am getting back nothing but thank-yous for "watching", "reading", or "listening" to them. They are not reading this email. It is just one of thousands they receive each day.
I do not have a home page and I don't have Internet access at present. This story needs to get out, my friends. They are sweeping this needless death under the rug, and no one is going to pay for murdering this boy.
There are more details I don't want to put into an email, but I will tell you what I've found out in the past few days, since he died. Robeert was nineteen but had the mental capacity of a twelve year old. He was arrested for "enticement". The local Alabama news media publicized him to be a sexual predator. Those details are in my email. He was placed in a cell by himself. For some reason he was removed from that single cell and placed in with violent criminals. This part of the story came out yesterday from his attorney:
"Two inmates held him upside down by his ankles as his head was bashed against the floor."
He died several days later. We are getting almost no information on this, and the sheriff refuses to comment further.
My questions are, who took this skinny kid out of the single cell and placed him in with violent criminals? Why would he be moved into such a cell? What did the sheriff hope to accomplish by this action?
I'm not asking you, I'm begging you, please contact your local news agencies with this story. Tell them you want to know the facts in this death. It isn't going to get out in Alabama. Let the people that arranged for this boy to die face the consequences for their actions. They say this is the justice system. I'm asking you to see that Robert Sevigny gets the justice in death he never got in life.
My email as sent to all the major news agencies I can reach.
Date: Thu, 10 Sep 1998 17:52:52 -0300
Subject: "Jail House Justice"/"Death Sentence Given To Inmate"
Yesterday, there were the two lead-ins to a story involving a nineteen year old "boy" that was murdered inside the Madison County Jail, Huntsville Alabama. One of these teasers was used by your network affiliate.
This same station publicized the arrest of this "boy" on enticement charges, only they reported it as a sex crime. Cameras rolled as this thin, frail, shy, handsome youth was escorted to jail. It was the last time he was to be seen alive.
Apparently he was placed into a cell block with violent criminals. He was convicted of nothing. He had touched no one. He was beaten to death.
I realize that sex crimes against children are terrible realities in this society. We should have laws to protect our children and to keep predators in jail. The practice of putting "publicized" sex offenders into violent areas of the jail is common. This is the way the deputies and the jails hand out there brand of justice. To purposely put someone in with violent men that are almost certain to attack a "child molester", is plain and simply uncivilized no matter how deserved it might seem. It is not what our justice system is supposed to be about. We can not allow the inmates to be judge, juries, and executioners at their whim. Jailers should not be allowed to place unpopular inmates at risk.
There is enough responsibility to go around in this particular incident. The sheriff said, "I have 500 inmates. We felt the security was adequate." I think the sheriff is missing something. This "boy" was portrayed as some kind of sexual predator by stations that carry network logos. He was neither convicted nor charged with touching anyone.
Responsibility demands that the facts be reported, not hysterical attempts to jack up ratings for a news station by sensationalizing a case that has little substantive evidence past words that may or may not have been said to a child.
The reporting was wrong and irresponsible and led to the death of this "boy". The sheriff was wrong, and knew it, when the boy was put in with men that have nothing more to do than take out their anger on the only form of life lower than they perceive themselves to be. This form of jail house justice is a universal truth in jails around this country. Surely this sheriff was not ignorant of the reporting that assured this boy would meet violence when placed in the general population. If he did not know it, he was negligent and is out of touch. If he did know, he's culpable. His decisions have derailed the justice system. "We took every precaution," seems woefully inadequate, to say the least.
I am asking you, as a responsible news reporting agency, to investigate the reporting in this case. This is Alabama. No one cares about this boy but the elderly parents that don't seem to be able to even understand what has happened to their adopted son. It is reported that he had been badly abused before being adopted.
These people don't seem to know what to do or where to turn for "justice". Perhaps they are still in shock and they will have the strength to fight the system that condemned their son to death without so much as a day in court.
I'm sorry this is such a long email. I know you must receive tens of thousands. Justice isn't always possible, and in this case there won't be meaningful investigations unless they come from outside the Alabama system.
Please don't let this go unnoticed. Do we really want to condemn sick teenagers that need to be in therapy to this kind of death because it is popular with jailers and good for news ratings? I don't think so.
An observer from,