Saturday, February 02, 2008

Dare I Ask the Question?

Police arrested a fellow who’d been wanted over thirty years ago. Jack Hazen was convicted of armed robbery and sent to prison in Florida where he then escaped and disappeared. Hazen changed his name to Charles Free, married, had kids, got a job working construction and has led a quiet life ever since.

Here’s the question which begs to be asked, are we better off sending him back to prison? The answer isn’t as simple as it may appear. Yes, he owes society the remainder of his prison sentence. If we go about letting escaped prisoners remain free the whole system would turn into chaos.

Then again the purpose of prison is to keep folks who are a danger to society out of trouble and rehabilitate them; yea, that works really well. What’re the statistics on convicted criminals who never return to a life of crime?

In this particular case it would appear that Jack Hazen no longer is a threat to society since he no longer exists. Charles Free, the man who replaced him seems to have done a fair job of becoming a model citizen who helps his neighbors. What purpose would be served in placing Charles Free in a prison system where he would no longer be productive and instead have him associate with criminals who for the most part have no intention of being rehabilitated?

If you think about it, Charles Free saved the taxpayers a considerable sum of money, the original cost to house him in prison used to be calculated at about $ 30 K per prisoner. I didn’t see how many years he was supposed to stay behind bars; but let’s say he would have been paroled in 7 years for good behavior. That saved the state of Florida a little over $ 200 K. Then there’s the issue of having an over loaded parole staff to pay after he legally became a member of society.

Charles Free made sure to cross all his “T’s” and dot all the “I’s”, remain as quiet as a mouse for thirty years in order not to draw attention to himself or his past. He was his own prison guard, his own parole officer and the only thing it cost the society is our pride in a system which doesn’t seem to produce rehabilitated citizens capable of joining society. I say go through the formalities to satisfy “justice”. Have him sign a form at the court house in Las Vegas; no reason to fly him across the country which would only add to the cost, then quietly open the back door of the jail and let him go home to his family where he has proven that he will not be a threat to society.

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