Inmate Gets Two Years For Spitting On Guard

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?

21 thoughts on “Inmate Gets Two Years For Spitting On Guard”

  1. Are you kidding? The guards take away their property, assault them, take away their food, their water, their ability to shower, etc. etc. – basically treat them like animals – but the minute the inmate does the only de minimis thing they can possibly do to fight back and maintain just the very slightest bit of human dignity and “the system” decides he needs another two years? Just another example of how this country and this society views all those who have criminal convictions as not worthy of basic human decency.

  2. The detainees of Club Gitmo regularly spit on the guards, toss pee and doodies at them while basking in a topical paradise. What penalty do they get? A $700k “football” field. Somehow this dude’s 2 year add-on seems a bit inconsistent.

  3. If the facts are represented accurately, this sentence is absolutely ridiculous. Spitting is disgusting but 2 years? Anyone who would wish this on him is sick and apparently the judge is sick. People have issues. People need to extend compassion even to jerks. Where will this end. Does justice have emotional mood swings? Who knows. This guy needs help but wont get it in jail. Lets face it, prison guards have chosen to be there and some of them have their own issues as well. Some enjoy aggravating people who are powerless at the time. Countless abuses-some unmentionable & many unspoken-have also come from the side of the law as well. The human condition is become sadder by the day at best. How often do those in authority useg that influence to extend grace and mercy rather than pain, hurt & suffering while maximizing every inch of the law they can utilize. Ive never understood a man who will harm another man who is cuffed or helpless against him. Where did the golden rule go? Kevin Wolter-COINSPlus-Spokane

    1. One aspect of this situation and it’s subsequent sentence is the deterrence objective of sentencing. While this inmate might have have had certain mental health issues, there are other inmates who spit, or “gas” (toss wads of toilet paper covered in urine, feces, semen, spit) COs intentionally. This sentence is a message to them that spitting on CO’s will not be tolerated.

      While it was the judge who handed down a two-year sentence, it was 12 jurors who gave the judge the right to hand down that sentence.

      Also, Mr. Willis only accomplished spitting on the CO’s wrist, who or what is to say his attempt wasn’t aimed at the CO’s face.

      I don’t know if “lesser included” charges were offered, does anyone?

  4. Dredd,
    When I push the wrong key, my text usually disappears—-I hear you AY.
    But you got BIG time response. What’s the secret? For my next rage.

    As for the spitter, in his mental state, they should be glad he doesn’t develop a tic-spit syndrome.

  5. The tax payers got one hell of a bill for that act! I wonder if he is going to be housed in CCA facility.

  6. What do you think about the length of this sentence?”

    It does not seem to be based on extensive data or prisoner management.

    If this was done by someone who has a disease that can be transmitted by spit, then the sentence is less questionable as being unjust rage in a robe.

    Those type of prisoners can be segregated from those who do not pose such a threat.

    If the prisoner in this case was not contagious, then a few days in the hold would suffice.

  7. That seems to be about double the “going rate.” Here’s another story of an inmate getting 3 years (with 2 suspended) in Virginia for the same offense with no aggravating factors:

    In Canada, an inmate got an additional year:

    Here’s a case from Australia with a year sentence:

  8. Unless the prisoner had a communicable disease, I’d say send him to bed without dessert for a week and call it even.

  9. Unfortunately depending upon the original conviction this sentence may never be served….. There are internal measures that can be used to extend the original sentence beyond the original crime….

    I think the 2 years may prove to be academic in a number of cases…

  10. The prison system is a big business and so the more inmates the better. I’m just so sure that the tax payers won’t mind paying a few thousand more for the extra 2 years!!

  11. So, how long have the sentences been for the banksters spitting on the American people? Oh, right. Not. My bad.

  12. I don’t honestly know how they get people to be prison guards, even without this sort of thing. I have a great deal of sympathy for the monumental task we have given them. This does however seem excessive.

  13. The sentence for this offense is obscene…offensive to recognized standards of decency. And justice.

Comments are closed.