The idea of compassionate release of sick and elderly prisoners is being bandied about, but too often the other side is not being mentioned, as it is in these two letters to the editor—expressing a position we support—for the New York Times.
Another perspective not being addressed is that through the use of drugs and alcohol—normative in the criminal world—many of the incapacitative symptoms of old age can be reduced to the point of the criminal being able to resume predatory behavior.
In “Graying Prisoners” (Op-Ed, Aug. 19), Jamie Fellner makes a compelling case that society is ill served by keeping people in prison decade after decade, until at last they grow old and infirm and must be cared for at mounting taxpayer expense. Unfortunately, in making her argument, she doesn’t mention another side of the problem.
Generally, those sentenced to life without parole are the worst of the worst, people who in an earlier era would have been executed, and who even today might have gotten the needle if their trials had gone a little differently.
Releasing them does a disservice to the loved ones of their victims, who accepted — sometimes very bitterly — that these criminals would not be put to death in exchange for the promise that they would never walk free again.