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Comments made by Juror5

Life In Prison: Harriet Salarno, A Victim Speaks

She asks rhetorically how older inmates would survive if they could get out? She concludes that anyone serving a lengthy term and paroled in their 60's or 70's would resort to crime to survive and be back behind bars, so best to keep them forever. In the cases of many seniors, once released they would be immediately eligible for Social Security. However, they can not collect these benefits while in prison. Isn't it effectively cruel and unusual punishment to take a person advised by the trial court of when they might be released on parole and then deny them that hope for release? Are we to really accept the notion that 99% of inmates serving X to Life are never suitable for release? I am certain that in the past when judges sentenced offenders to 25 to life, they did not imagine that virtually none of them would be paroled. Many years ago their was an expectation that if an offender was a model prisoner there would be a chance for parole. Then our society became tougher on crime, imposing 3 strikes laws and denying paroles as a matter of policy, citing "nature of the crime" as cause for denying parole. I would submit, that if the "nature of the crime" had been so heinous to begin with, wouldn't it have been the duty of the trial court to have imposed a harsher sentence? I think a lot of what we have in the parole system is a form of double jeopardy wherein inmates are never able to complete their sentences as they can be deemed "unsuitable" for release until they die. If we as a society are to conclude that 99% of those sentenced to X to life are never to be paroled, then it is cruel and unusual punishment to give them hope where there is none. It would be much more humane and honest to say at the time of sentencing--commit a 3rd strike--life without parole--molest your kid--life without parole, etc. If we don't want to let old offenders eligible for parole out after 20-30 years to collect their Social Security and live their "golden" years as members of society that have "paid their debt", it would be far more humane to tell them in the first place that they will never see the light of day. If we have truly forsaken the notion of rehabilitation, then we must commit ourselves to incarcerating more and more of our citizens for all sorts of crimes for the rest of their lives. I for one would prefer that sound minds could somehow adopt a "kinder gentler" approach, and formulate workable programs wherein older offenders that have served their time and are eligible for parole could feasibly reintegrate into society, rather than building colonies of penetentiaries for a geriatric subculture of our society deemed beyond redemption.

January 26, 2010 at 10:29 p.m. ( | suggest removal )