James Ridgeway has written a moving article over at Mother Jones about geriatric prisoners. Given that our culture thinks the most important, most saintly thing we, as human beings, can do is punish the guilty, prisons are the last stop for a large percentage of our population. The problem is, it’s an expensive solution, and saving tax dollars is quickly becoming the number two thing on our social list. The solution that the government has found is “prisoner dumping”. Once an inmate gets too old, feeble, or sick to be a real menace, we’re more than happy to turn them out on the street and let them fend for themselves.
This is nothing new. My favorite cousin fell into this situation many years ago. He wasn’t a “bad person”, he just loved to think that he could get something for nothing, and doing horrible things like writing hot checks got him permanently punished under a three-strikes law. He was not even 50 years old when he developed prostate cancer. It progressed rapidly, and they set him “free” rather than pay for his treatment. Of course, he also couldn’t pay for his treatment, so he didn’t last long — about six months. I guess, under the eyes of our society, he got what he deserved.
I don’t have any answers. But I sincerely believe that there has to be a better way than the way we’re going. As a Buddhist, I believe that every individual contains the promise of improvement. I’m just not sure there’s any hope for our society…
Source: Mother Jones