Walker cited "a culture of looking the other way in prison." Toure, co-director of the American Friends Service Committee's Criminal Justice Program in Cambridge, Mass., said he, too, was suspicious.
"For this guy who is in prison for killing a gay person … he's seeing Geoghan every day, so this stuff has got to be coming up inside of him," Toure said. "We're spending all this money [on high-tech prisons], and the guy got killed, and they want to blame it on the crazy guy? Who's running this?"
Michael Shively, a former Massachusetts corrections official, said even though Geoghan was in protective custody, it was impossible to completely guarantee his safety given that the other inmates who require protection are drawn from a difficult and dangerous population.
"To put together a group of people where it looks like no offender is a threat to another offender is almost impossible when you're drawing from that pool," Shively said.
The pool of prisoners in protective custody can vary from state to state, and does not automatically include all child molesters and informants, officials and aid workers said.
California prison officials described a good deal of racial and gang affiliation among that state's prison population and a crime-based hierarchy among inmates — with certain murderers at the top of the heap.
Ironically, they said killing someone either at the top or the bottom of the totem pole will garner respect for the killer among fellow inmates — so child molesters and high-profile killers both tend to be given protective custody unless they're deemed tough or discreet enough to get along in the general population.
But things are different in other parts of the country, said Ed Ramsey, a spokesman for the Connecticut Department of Corrections, and a former corrections officer at a maximum-security prison in the state.
Ramsey does not see a clearly defined "hierarchy of crimes" among Connecticut inmates, nor large amounts of self-segregation along gang and racial lines. Therefore, he said, the state evaluates candidates for protective custody on a case-by-case basis — considering those who legitimately feel endangered, or who the institution sees as potential targets and therefore threats to maintaining order. Such targets might include inmates in high-profile cases or jailed former law enforcement officers.
In a further effort to maintain order, Connecticut officials do segregate suspected members of certain gangs, including the Aryan Brotherhood, within the prison system, Ramsey said.
Toure said although Massachusetts inmates may mock or scorn pedophiles, he does not see a strict hierarchy of crimes in the state's prisons that would lead to violence.
"I left Walpole [a maximum-security prison in Massachusetts] in '87 and there wasn't a P.C. [protective custody] unit anymore … because that stuff wasn't happening anymore, because people weren't killing other people because of sex offenders or anything like that," he said. "It had died down."
But Toure said hate can fuel violence if it festers, and as prison services for inmates are cut due to budget constraints, inmates with personal issues can lash out at others who personify their problems. He said the Geoghan killing might be a case in point.
"They don't give [Druce] any counseling or any programs to help him deal with any problems that brought him in prison," Toure claimed. "Then, they put him in protective custody … with John Geoghan, who's in jail for child molestation."
ABCNEWS' Dan Harris contributed to this report.