While strapped to a chair in a padded cell in Steuben County (Indiana) jail, Thomas Mars Willis, 32, spit on a guard’s wrist. He has now been sentenced to two years for that act after a jury found him guilty of felony battery by bodily waste.
His public defender, Robert Hardy, argued that the act was the result of Willis not receiving anti-anxiety medication in jail.
Given the common physicality of jail scenes, one could imagine a virtually infinite number of cases where spittle is alleged to have hit a guard. I do not take the act lightly. Guards are always in danger of transmitted diseases and other harms. However, such matters have long been dealt with as disciplinary offenses, which can involve harsh measures from segregation to suspension of all privileges. Indiana has been previously criticized for sentencing that seems to lack consistency. A recent report found that the average sentence in the state for many non-violent crimes is 96 months, but the average sentence for sexual assault is only 65 months.
What do you think about the length of this sentence?