FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A Florida jail inmate was convicted of indecent exposure after a guard complained that he had masturbated in his cell.
A jury took 45 minutes to convict Terry Lee Alexander, 20, of the misdemeanor on Wednesday. The judge sentenced him to 60 days in the county jail. He had faced up to a year.
In November, Broward County Deputy Coryus Veal, who was monitoring Alexander's cell from a centrally located control room, saw him masturbating while he was sitting on his bunk, alone in his cell. She testified that she brought the charge against him the third time he masturbated in view of her.
Veal has brought similar charges against seven other inmates in six months.
The sheriff's office encourages deputies to file criminal charges to discourage masturbating in the county's jails, said Elliot Cohen, an agency spokesman. He said privacy is one of the rights inmate give up in jail.
Kathleen McHugh, Alexander's attorney, said her client did nothing wrong. She said he was alone in his cell, which was not open to the public.
"I think the government's gone awry," McHugh said. "Has it been a slow year in crime that they've got to go prosecute masturbation in the Broward County Jail?"
During jury selection, McHugh looked at 17 prospective jurors and asked how many among them had never masturbated. No hands were raised.
Alexander was originally brought to jail on an armed robbery case, for which he received a10-year prison sentence.