Prisoner musings

A lot of states have searchable online databases where you can look up information about people who are in prison. I was checking out Florida’s and it’s actually kind of interesting. You can search by name, age, type of offense, race and other items. I think I will try looking in state inmate databases for the names of suspects that are mentioned on Charley, so I can get their pictures and stuff and maybe learn more about the cases.

What I found most noteworthy in the Florida database is the imprisoned geriatrics. I found 272 people listed who are over 75. The oldest inmate I could find was one Samuel A. Bowman, born October 9, 1922. He’s been in prison since 2006 for strongarm rape and sexual battery on a victim under 12, and he is never getting out.

Of course, I am all in favor of punishing wrongdoers — certainly when the said wrongdoers are murderers or rapists — but one has to wonder what the point is in putting really really old people in jail. I mean, my grandparents live in a nursing home and it wouldn’t be that big of a step for them to go to jail, since they are already pretty much stuck in the home unless someone takes them out for a day visit somewhere. They can’t go anywhere overnight cause none of us can see to all their medical needs. Grandpa can walk only a little, and Grandma can’t even stand up. I suppose there really isn’t any good way to punish an elderly criminal. It’s like in one of the Saw movies, the guy says, “I’m a terminal cancer patient. What can you possibly do to me?”

Some of those people have been in for so long that it would probably not be doing them a favor to let them out. The culture shock would be tremendous — it would be like Rip Van Winkle. (Though my friend John pointed out that if you released such a person and followed them around with a camera, it would make a good reality show.) These people would have to relearn how to make their own food, do their own laundry, balance a checkbook, etc. All the choices they make could potentially paralyze them — even something as simple as choosing what clothes to wear today is something most prisoners aren’t able to do.

I read an article recently about a guy who’s been in prison since the age of 13, in solitary confinement much of the time. He was doing life without parole (he shot someone, non-fatally, during a mugging) but owing to a recent Supreme Court ruling that it’s cruel and unusual punishment to give juveniles life without parole if they didn’t kill anyone, they are having to prepare this man for release. They’re trying to take it in little baby steps — like, right now they’re giving him access to the prison commissary to select his own snacks, and so on. But I’m afraid the real world is really going to smack him in the face once he gets out. He has no education and no immediate family left on the outside, and he’s had very little contact with any humans at all for the past thirty or so years.

In the Florida database I saw one man who’s 74 and has been in prison since 1961, and a woman who’s almost 77 and has been in since 1968. I saw a guy who’s also been locked up since 1968; he was originally incarcerated in 1946, paroled in 1957, then returned to prison in 1968. I guess he violated his parole. He’s also in for rape. I saw another guy who was just sent in this year but won’t be eligible for parole until 2038, by which time he will be 110 years old.

It seems like after you’re in prison for as long as that, prison ceases to be a punishment and simply becomes a way of life. Like, most people in the USA would consider it a severe punishment if they were sent to some primitive and/or disease-ridden third world country like, say, Kiribati or Mali, to live without any amenities. But for the Malians and Kiribatians, it’s just how things are.

22 thoughts on “Prisoner musings

  1. Katja July 26, 2010 / 6:47 pm

    Well, for example, consider the girls in the Manson family murders. Most of them were between 18 and 24 at the time of the murder, and it’s very easy to feel sorry for them because most of them did grow up in broken or dysfunctional homes, and more than anything, it seemed like they were looking for somebody to love them, and they thought they had found that person in Charles Manson.

    Now, 40 years later, at least one has died in prison, but others have been coming up for parole now and again for a number of years. Keeping them in jail doesn’t bring any of the murdered people back – and by some accounts that number was over 100. However, when it does come to murder, especially, they not only deprived the murdered person from a longer life, but also the person’s friends and family from having that person in their life anymore, and I don’t think that it is unfair that when somebody commits and is convicted of murder that they do spend the rest of their life in jail, even if that person lives to be quite elderly. (And believe me, not all elderly people are good!)

    • Meaghan July 26, 2010 / 6:55 pm

      Oh, I don’t think it’s at all unfair for a person to go to prison for the rest of their life if they’re convicted of murder. I just don’t think it’s exactly a “win” situation. Nobody really wins — fewer people lose, that’s all.

      In the novel and movie Red Dragon, which is the first book to feature Hannibal Lecter as a character, Lecter muses about his own fate in kind of similar terms. He said something like, “These are strange times we live in. Half-measures are the worst of it. Any rational society would either kill me or put me to some use.”

  2. Brenda July 26, 2010 / 10:00 pm

    Montana also lets you look up the people in prison, probation, parole and in the pre-release.

  3. Nicole July 26, 2010 / 10:17 pm

    Michigan does too. It’s Michigan OTIS (Offender tracking information system or something like that). I like to look up people form my past to see if they were evr arrested and on probation or anything.

    • Meaghan July 26, 2010 / 11:33 pm

      My brother was in jail in Michigan for awhile, several years ago.

  4. Princess Shantae July 27, 2010 / 1:41 am

    Alot of your career criminals would rather be in jail because 1. Free food and medical 2. inmates really know how to work things when they are inside. Like they can still sell drugs or run guns or like that from inside and not run the same risk of getting killed as they do outside. Sad but true.
    There is a big difference between a nursing home and prison. But its a psychological difference mainly. A person in a nursing home isn’t looked down at or feared and if he or she is able to leave the home the fact they were in a home doesn’t count against them.
    I think Mr. Bowman is right where he needs to be at if he was bothering some under 12 kid even in his 80s.

    • Meaghan July 27, 2010 / 2:12 am

      I’m slightly impressed that Mr. Bowman was physically capable of committing the crimes he was convicted of.

      • Princess Shantae July 27, 2010 / 2:41 am

        If the kid was young enough or small enough or weak enough or scared enough I guess Sam didn’t have to be young and strong to do it.

      • Meaghan July 27, 2010 / 3:17 am

        But he did have to have a functioning penis.

      • Princess Shantae July 27, 2010 / 4:25 pm

        No, not necessarily. Sex criminals use all different kind of things besides that part to do what they do.
        And anywa there is always Viagra.

    • Teresa (Bowman) May 9, 2014 / 5:58 pm

      Thank you. I am his step daughter, the survivor of his crimes. Thank you.

  5. Kat July 27, 2010 / 1:46 am

    Can’t remember his name…Hierans, William Hierans? Chicago, Lipstick Killer (maybe). he was an A&E special…..has a lawyer trying to free him to what…

  6. Justin July 27, 2010 / 2:48 am

    So do you think that individuals who were guilty of crimes against humanity such as in Nazi Germiany or Cambodia should not face punishment due to their advanced age? No matter what they have done?

    • Meaghan July 27, 2010 / 3:16 am

      I didn’t say that and you will never hear me say it. I think anyone who knowingly and willfully commits a crime should be punished even if they’re 102. I was just reflecting on the difficulties of dealing with geriatric criminals.

  7. LBF July 27, 2010 / 3:01 pm

    Call me cynical, but I would prefer to have elderly sex offenders and murderers stay in prison, even with the additional problems of health care. There is no simple or safe (for general society) solution to the problem.

    My mother (now retired) worked at a nursing home where several sex offenders have resided over the years. At least two of these individuals were later relocated to other nursing facilities or mental hospitals after they were discovered molesting other patients (in one of the cases, the victim was a bedridden woman with advanced Alzheimer’s, who would have been unable to report to staff what was occurring).

    The horrible part is not only were these offenders allowed to move into the facility with the administrator’s awareness of their criminal background, when staff discovered the sexual abuse and made the decision to relocate them, all knowledge of the incidents was hushed up — not charted, obviously not reported to the police and no notification of the victim’s families. But then I’m not surprised at what some individuals in the health care industry will do to cover their own a**es.

    • Meaghan July 27, 2010 / 3:04 pm

      Kind of reminds me of the way the Catholic church used to handle pedophile priests. Are those nursing home residents supposed to become non-offenders at their new nursing home?

  8. Kat July 27, 2010 / 7:17 pm

    Pass em off. No one knows what to do with all these aged criminals, and it clearly shows. All the stories I’ve seen, further proof that age does not inhibit criminal sexual tendencies. There was one dude I read about 3-4 months ago, in his 90s or some such, they were trying to keep tabs on him and even a CHURCH said he was a reoffender and people went all nuts. It’s like the whole baby boomers aging thing, now they are here and what do we do?

  9. Princess Shantae July 28, 2010 / 12:35 am

    Last year I read a news story about a lady who killed her room mate at the nursing home. She was 98 and her room mate was 100. They just didn’t get along but they both refused to be moved even though they were offered seperate rooms.

    • Meaghan July 28, 2010 / 12:41 am

      Which just goes to show that advanced age does not necessarily make people mature or rational.

      I hope she got a cell to herself.

      • Gra July 28, 2010 / 11:59 am

        Lol @ meaghan

  10. Teresa (Bowman) May 9, 2014 / 5:55 pm

    I’m Samuel Bowmans Victim. Now a survivor. The reason he was in prison was because of horrible crimes!! He also attempted to rape another family member less than a year before he was extradited to FL to face what he did to me. So before you feel sorry for “This old man”, know he was very healthy, standing on stage playing bass guitar and very physical active at the time of his arrest! If you want an interview for the truth email me. Sincerely, Teresa (Bowman)

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