Two years ago, comic book writer Gerard Jones, was sentenced to six years in federal prison after pleading guilty to charges in regard to distributing and possessing child pornography. He was arrested in September in 2016 after YouTube tipped off police that he had uploaded suspect videosy to a private YouTube channel, and he was charged the following January. Although originally planning to plead innocent, having gathered character witness statements from his friends, neighbours and comic book industry colleagues, he changed his plea to guilty at the last moment. Those good character statements were then used by his legal team, alongside psychological reports, to argue to allow Jones bail before sentencing, which unusually was granted. He began his sentence on November 30th, 2018.
He has now started writing a blog – written on paper in jail, then transcribed and uploaded by former colleagues. Titled The Porn Prison, from Addiction to Freedom. From Exploitation to Love it has Jones accepting his crimes but also looking at the role he sees played by pornography and drugs in his crimes. He writes,
I looked to see what other child-pornography perpetrators have said about their experiences—and I couldn't find any. These are frighteningly common crimes, becoming more common all the time, they need to be exposed and discussed, but the people who can talk about them from the inside think their own choice is to vanish into shame and fear. I haven't wanted to make myself the public face of this ugliness. I've hoped someone else would go first, or that something would shift in the public mind. I've told myself that maybe I should at least wait until I'm out of prison. But now this virus squats at the gate, looking for its way in. In my prison we don't live in cells, we live packed into barracks of 70 to 100 men. When corona gets in, it will be a storm. We have no hospital, no infirmary, not even a staff doctor. Inmates classed as "vulnerable" like me are being released from state prisons, but not from federal. I have to take this as a Divine Nudge: if there's anything I've ever wanted to say, I'd better say it now.
I didn't commit my crimes out of any lust for children. I got myself hooked on a cocktail of prescription stimulants and ordinary internet porn, and from there I followed the ruthless logic of addiction, of increasing tolerance and increasing hits. With the drugs I could do more pills. With the porn, a fiercer hit meant more shock, more taboo, more ugliness. After sixteen months in prison with hundreds of other perpetrators like me, I'm certain that this is how the vast majority of us got here: trying to escape our anxiety and depression and isolation, using the internet as a drug, launching ourselves into a spiral of secrecy and shame, needing new jolts to distract from the new pain we're making, deadening our compassion and our moral senses.
Here in prison, we're in our own sort of Rat Park: 70 men in a room, 400 in a building, marched to the chow hall (under our COVID protocol) in tight knots of 150. It's an epidemiological dilemma, but none of us is ever even close to alone—and in times of fear that has its comforts. Huddling together is deep in our mammalian souls, and it's in quaking solitude that we turn to false pleasures to soothe us.
Some law enforcement officials have estimated that more than 10 percent of the adult male population of the US could, right now, be arrested for possession of underage pornography. As the number of drug offenders in prison is finally being reduced, their bunks are filling up with porn offenders. More and more of them are in their teens and early twenties, kids who got caught up in the stuff before they fully realized it was wrong.
I want to make amends for what I did. Amends aren't just apologies and professions of guilt—those are quickly done and don't change much. Amends require emendations, undoing damage, material change. I don't want to pretend that I can bring about some vast transformation just by telling what I've learned. But I have faith that if I just show up here as truly as I can and let you do what you want with whatever I bring, something good will come.
Addiction is No Excuse. For Anything. Do some people use "but I'm an addict" as a way to dodge responsibility for their actions? I'm sure some do. But no true addict who is serious about recovery—and has some experience with the work—ever would.
Gerard Jones is also known for co-creating the Ultraverse character Prime, about a child who instantly turns into a super-strong adult superhero, as well Topaz, who appeared in the Thor: Ragnarok movie. He also co-created The Trouble with Girls, Solitaire, Ultraforce, and Hulk 2099; wrote the Green Lantern stories Emerald Dawn, Emerald Dawn II, Mosaic, and the Guy Gardner series. He also wrote the non-fiction books The Comic Book Heroes: The First History of Modern Comic Books, Killing Monsters: Why Children Need Fantasy, Superheroes and Make-Believe Violence and Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters, and the Birth of the Comic Book. He had been working on a new book both before and after his arrest, and much of his legal concern was over content stored on seized computers which he wanted returned so he could finish his book, titled Nation of Faith and Flesh: The Moral War that Shaped America. After his arrest, DC Comics cancelled planned reprints of his Justice League and Green Lantern work. Since then some of his work has, however, come back into print.