When someone gets convicted of a crime and is subsequently locked behind bars for the safety of the public, you would think that their presence and criminal antics would get locked away with them.
After all, isn’t that why we have prisons? The doctrine that prisons make our world a safer place is put to the test in the shocking case of Warren Jeffs, a man whose presence extends well beyond his prison walls.
In 2011, Warren Jeffs the president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church), a radical splinter group of the mainstream Mormon Church, was convicted of two counts of child sexual abuse.
However, Jeffs had gained worldwide notoriety prior to this conviction when in 2006 he was placed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List for fleeing from the law, after allegations that he had arranged illegal marriages between underage girls and his male followers.
Jeffs was arrested in Nevada in 2006 for two accounts of rape, and was sentenced to ten years in prison. However, the sentence was subsequently overturned due to incorrect jury instructions. He was extradited to Texas, where he was ultimately sentenced to life in prison plus twenty years. (1)
Jeffs the Prophet
The fundamentalist leader is known by his followers as the “prophet”.
These followers live in a desert community of more than 8,000 people on the Utah and Arizona border. In 2008, there was a police raid on the extremist group’s “Yearning for Zion” compound in Eldorado.
The findings in that raid immediately placed the group under an international spotlight. Officials uncovered some shocking goings on at the compound, including pregnant child brides and stories of female subordination by dominant male groups. (2)
You would think that a man behind bars would have little control over the barbaric occurrences still taking place in the reclusive community. On the contrary, according to ABC News, which carried out a year-long investigation into the Warren Jeffs case, despite having been behind bars for six years, Warren Jeffs’ presence has never left Colorado City.
Talking about the “prophet’s” rule still dominating the fundamentalist community, reporter Mike Watkiss, who has been covering the community for 25 years, said:
“Anybody who thinks that Warren Jeffs’ incarceration ended his rule in this community has no idea what they are talking about. He is in many ways more powerful because now he’s martyred.”
“The prophet literally tells people where they will live, whom they will marry. Warren buys the allegiance of these men because they can’t get into heaven without him, because he needs to give them three wives. That’s the only way you’re going to get to heaven.” (2)
Sexually Controlling a Community
In spite of being convicted of sexually assaulting underage girls, Jeffs’ followers in Colorado City defend their ‘prophet’s’ innocence.
“We miss our prophet, Warren Jeffs,” Dr. Maryam Holm, Colorado City’s leading doctor, told ABC News. “We know he is innocent and we all yearn for his deliverance, to be able to see him again.” (2)
This shocking story of people continuing to have their daily lives controlled by a convicted criminal whilst the convict is in prison apparently began when Jeffs ordered his followers to destroy their children’s toys.
It was not only toys that Jeffs banned, as according to the FLDS leader’s former body guard, Willie Jessop, Jeffs even banned his followers from eating corn and dairy products. (2)
In a different report by ABC News, it was reported that earlier this year the polygamist leader ordered that only 15 men could father children in the FLDS sect. Jeffs effectively banned his cult’s members from having sex with one another, except for the 15 chosen men and the Church’s female members.
“If a woman wants to have a baby or whatever, she has to go to one of these 15 men. But then she has to have two other men with the one of the 15 men in the room to witness,” 19-year-old FLDS member Willie Steed told ABS News. (2)
90 Day Cell Phone Suspension
You may be asking how it can be physically possible for a convicted felony to execute such a tight control over thousands of people from a prison cell – with nothing more than emails, a mobile phone perhaps?
It does seem almost implausible that up until January of this year, the polygamist sect leader was enabled to own a mobile phone in the Texas prison where he is jailed.
According to a report in the LA Times, prison officials retracted Jeffs’ phone privileges for 90 days after it emerged that he was making calls to his followers. (3)
It seems even more incredible that a corrupt FLDS ‘prophet’, who has been investigated and chastised for making phone calls from prison to control a highly dangerous and clandestine religious cult, will only have his mobile phone revoked for 90 days rather than permanently.